MILWAUKEE — A new report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum details what many parents across Wisconsin have learned first-hand, especially over the past few years during the pandemic: finding good, affordable and available early child care is getting more and more difficult.

"Early childhood crisis and care was in crisis before the pandemic," said Sara Shaw, senior education researcher for the Wisconsin Policy Forum. "This is a field in which workers are paid very little, parents and guardians are paying a lot, and childcare operators are operating on pretty thin margins, and then the pandemic came."

Shaw added that Wisconsin doesn't have enough child care workers right now and because of the state of the industry overall, low wages included, recruiting more workers is a challenge.

According to the report, lead educators in Milwaukee County earn an average annual salary of only $24,981, with their assistants earning an even lower $22,152 per year. That comes out to about $12 an hour, falling under the $15 per hour starting wage increasingly adopted by stores like Target.

"In Milwaukee County or looking at urban centers like it, in hourly terms, are child care workers are making less than if they were working at Target," Shaw said, "[or] if they were working at Amazon, or if they were working in a school district as a kindergarten teacher or substitute teacher."

Watch the full interview with Sara Shaw above.