MON AM News: ‘GrowthChart’ aims to reduce busy work in childcare; New report highlights impact of creative industries

— Parents expect childcare providers to focus on the ever-changing needs of their children. What they may not know is that providers are often distracted by record-keeping.

These providers are now able to document children’s daily report using a hands-free technology software called GrowthChart.

Patricia Wooldridge, co-founder of GrowthChart and owner and director at Mariposa Learning Center, has created this voice-recognition device for teachers to record and document students’ progress.

Mariposa Learning Center is a nationally accredited bilingual childcare center in Stoughton, where Wooldridge noticed the school’s teachers spending a lot of time on documenting student progress during school and after school hours.

Wooldridge and her husband came up with their solution together, building on nearly 20 years of combined childcare experience.

“We could not find a program for my own school, so we decided to build our own product,” said Wooldridge. “One of the founders saw an Alexa commercial on TV and that was the company’s “Ah-ha” moment.”

GrowthChart can document how each child spends his or her day and communicate that with the parents. It is a form of software used on the Google Home platform that translates the voice message onto the website where the information is logged.

See more:

— A new national report shows Wisconsin’s creative industries have a $9.7 billion annual impact and employ about as many workers as the state’s beer and papermaking industries combined.

The report, from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Endowment for the Arts, is being highlighted by Arts Wisconsin. It shows the state’s creative industries support more than 94,000 jobs, and those workers get $5.6 billion in compensation every year.

It also shows Wisconsin’s arts and creative sector makes up about 3 percent of the state’s economy.

“These impressive statistics make it clear that Wisconsin’s creative sector is a positive force for change,” said Anne Katz, director of Arts Wisconsin.

Dennis Winters, chief economist for the state Department of Workforce Development, draws a connection between fostering creative talent and driving economic competitiveness.

“It is imperative that Wisconsin develop the creative talent necessary to invent and commercialize new products and services,” Winters said.

On the national level, the report shows 5 million people work in the arts and cultural sector. In 2016, the sector contributed $804.2 billion or 4.3 percent of the U.S. GDP for that year. That was up from 2015, when the sector added $763.6 billion to the U.S. economy.

See more from the report:

— The Wisconsin Hospital Association is pushing lawmakers “to at least” match Gov. Tony Evers’ plan to pump an additional $68.2 million in state dollars over the budget into reimbursing hospitals that serve a large number of Medicaid patients.

Under Evers’ plan, that would result in a net increase of $165 million in reimbursements for hospitals that serve a high number of MA recipients and low-income patients, as well as those who qualify for the rural critical care program, according to a memo the group sent lawmakers.

Evers, however, helped fund some of that through his proposal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Republicans pulled Medicaid expansion from the budget earlier this month. That move would have saved the state $324.5 million in general purpose revenue and was the centerpiece Evers’ health care plan.

Republicans, though, would have to find additional GPR through other means after nixing the expansion.

To make its case for the investment, the WHA wrote in the memo the state is among the worst in the country for reimbursing expenses for treating Medicaid patients, resulting in a shift of $1.1 billion in costs to Wisconsin businesses and families through their health care costs.

The WHA memo says $324 million was “skimmed” from hospital assessments and used to fund other state spending, noting those revenues helped generate a Medicaid surplus in the current fiscal year of $234 million.

Considering those factors and the state’s influx of cash expected for the upcoming biennium, “WHA asks for your support to use new and existing revenues to increase Medicaid reimbursement for hospitals and reduce Medicaid cost-shifting to employers and families.”

Read the memo:

— The Wisconsin Personal Services Association is highlighting new findings that show 24 counties in the state have five or fewer Medicaid-certified personal care agencies.

“This alarming data confirms that Wisconsin’s personal care provider network is in jeopardy. People with disabilities and older adults are in danger of serious illness, harm and a loss of independence, because they cannot access the in-home caregiving services they need,” said WPSA President Amy Weiss.

These certified personal care agencies play an important role in communities, according to WPSA, bringing in-home personalized care to the elderly and people with disabilities. The group says 80 of these agencies in the state have closed or stopped providing Medicaid personal care services in the past six years.

WPSA says the personal care reimbursement rate has been “underfunded for decades,” and the group is urging the Joint Finance Committee to boost the Medicaid reimbursement rate for personal care by 11 percent when the committee takes up Medicaid funding.

“Without an 11 percent increase to the Medicaid personal care rate, agencies will keep closing and people will be up-rooted from their homes and communities with no option but to seek support in more expensive and restrictive settings,” Weiss said.

See the release:

— Health insurers in the state are joining a growing number of organizations backing a bill from GOP authors that would allow dental therapists to practice in the state.

The legislation is from Rep. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, and Sen. David Craig, R-Town of Vernon. According to a release, the bill would enable mid-level dental health practitioners, which are analogous to physician’s assistants, to work under dentist supervision.

A release from the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, the Alliance of Health Insurers and Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative shows 64 of the state’s 72 counties face dental care shortages. That means more than 1.2 million Wisconsinites are affected.

The groups say only 37 percent of dentists in the state accept Medicaid, pointing to low reimbursement rates as a cause. Because dental therapists have lower salaries, they say the practices could serve more Medicaid patients if the bill becomes law.

The release shows 10 states have approved dental therapy programs, including in Minnesota and Michigan.

Overall, more than 50 organizations have rallied behind the bill, including the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association, the Wisconsin Counties Association, the Social Development Commission and many more.

See the bill text:

See the release:

— Economic growth in metro Milwaukee “remains spotty,” according to the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s April economic trends report.

Of the 23 economic indicators tracked in the report, 11 trended upward in April. That’s unchanged from the March report.

“For the third time in five months, less than half of the indicators tracked by the MMAC pointed upward,” said Bret Mayborne, the MMAC’s economic research director.

Still, he notes employment growth improved in April, with a 0.8 percent growth rate of the year. And the number of unemployed reached its lowest level in nearly 20 years.

Half of the 10 major industry sectors in the report had job increases in April, the largest of which was seen in education and health services, with 3.4 percent. The largest job losses were seen in construction, mining and natural resources, with 1.6 percent.

See the report:


# Wisconsin’s new tourism campaign drives ‘fests and fairs’ message

# Ag economist: Trump’s subsidies are ‘Band-Aids on hemorrhaging wounds’

# Milwaukee region’s manufacturing sector contracts for first time in 31 months

# Pair hopes to convert former Madison Babies R Us into ethnic grocery and market



– JFC postpones action on Evers’ proposed CAFO fee hikes


– BMO Harris outsourcing Brown Deer lockbox services to FIS


– Arena to create ‘center of gravity’ for development


– Wisconsin lags in attracting educated workers, study finds


– Dr. Combs honored with WALSAA Outstanding Advisor award


– New pizzeria and bar planned on North Avenue in Wauwatosa


– Allstate plans to expand its Wisconsin presence


– Central Wisconsin woman faces animal neglect charges


– Fitzgerald, Vos: No gas tax increase to pay for roads


– Bill to clarify rules to prevent need to file both paper, electronic building permits


– Judge rejects Shopko’s bankruptcy plan


– Bucks have business momentum with historic season

– Milwaukee mulls $400K offer to Bucks player to settle suit


– Tech, innovation steer Direct Supply as it fills technology gap for senior care

– NASA using satellite technology to track potentially harmful algae blooms


– Summerfest unveils new food and beverage items for this year’s festival


– Transportation bills seek to balance higher revenue with reforms


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