2020-2021 Legislative Session Priorities for the Wisconsin YMCAs - click HERE for pdf document.


Wisconsin State Alliance of YMCAs


We serve over 567,300 people at 74 YMCA locations through Wisconsin. Over 214,000 children under the age of 18 are Y members. The Y is for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.







1) Childcare licensure: This one is a bit of a hybrid. While we believe the Boys and Girls Clubs (BGC) will not get any traction on their desire to create an afterschool license so they can access more Shares dollars, the YMCA’s will need to be vigilant to ensure this does not change. At the same time, we need to remain engaged in the DCF efforts to reform licensure standards internally and determine if they go far enough to address the challenges YMCA’s are facing (trouble recruiting, cost of unnecessary hurdles, etc.). If they do not, we will need to pursue standalone legislation in the next session. This could be driven by a “Legislative Council Study Committee” process where all stakeholders, including the agencies, Wisconsin After School Network (WAN), BGC and private providers come together to work toward a compromise bill. It can also be done in a less formal way, perhaps with WAN guiding the consensus process. But the first step is determining if the DCF proposed changes are enough.


2) Seeking funding for YMCA programs: This was something we first waded into in 2019 by seeking funding for falls prevention programming. It was complicated by other less connected elder groups seeking similar funding (forcing us into an awkward partnership) and then failed because of a desire from the Speaker to avoid any new programs due to line-item-veto concerns. Now as we look toward the next budget, we should settle on a funding ask that:

  • Is in line with YMCA values and practices.
  • Is ideally already being done but could be scaled up with support.
  • Is diverse in the geography of its application.
  • Has measurable results.
  • Can be viewed as an “investment” in other cost reduction (health outcomes for instance)
  • Requires a modest funding amount (sub $1M for this first effort).


Possibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Safety around water (potential Red Cross overlap)
  • Falls prevention
  • Chronic disease management (diabetes prevention, etc.)
  • Opiate addiction education


We would then need to build out a document explaining the need, start identifying potential sponsors and then have local Ys reach out to those targets. We would also then need to engage whatever state agency would implement this to get them on board, while also engaging the Governor.


Perhaps the most momentum we have is around the falls prevention issue. We spent lots of effort this past year discussing what we do in that space. The challenge is that other aging groups will also be pushing for similar dollars and will muddy the water. Those groups also want us to partner with them again, but we think that is likely not in our best interest.


We also would suggest engaging with the Attorney General to see if there are any settlements coming that might have resources earmarked for programs we can provide. This is more of a reactive stance, as it is driven by the details of the settlements. We should take a team of Y execs to meet with the AG at some point to discuss.




We feel it would be in the best interest of the YMCA to identify other legislation being moved by legislators or groups that meet the following criteria and to consider supporting them actively or passively. This helps position us as key players in public health and allows us to educate legislators about our public health mission. Bills should:


  • Promote public health
  • Be not overly controversial
  • Have bipartisan support.


While it is too early to know what other groups and legislators may introduce in this space, we do believe one of the opportunities will be the reintroduction of the GYM Act. This is the Get Youth Moving bill that requires more time for physical education in schools. We have also seen the Governor express interest in legislation and executive actions to curb the youth vaping epidemic. That is also something we might consider getting involved in supporting.


We can also consider proactively promoting some sort of public health legislation. However, that could dilute political capital needed for seeking some sort of funding and/or working on childcare licensure.


Contact: Foley & Lardner, LLP

ason Childress: jchildress@foley.com, 608.217.6109

Joe Leibham: jleibham@foley.com, 608.258.4257

Jenny Malcore: jmalcore@foley.com, 608.257.5035


Contact: Wisconsin State Alliance of YMCAs

Jon Agnew: jagnew@ymcafoxcities.org, 610.322.4913



Wisconsin State Alliance of YMCAs
2019-2020 Legislative Session Priorities

Wisconsin YMCAs At-A-Glance
We serve 472,895 people at 74 YMCA locations throughout Wisconsin. 144,208 children under the age of 18 are YMCA members. The Y is for Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility.

Legislative Priorities
Falls Prevention / Healthy Aging Grants
Provide $870,000 per year to support local Wisconsin non-profits, county and tribal agencies in upscaling researched and proven programs that reduce health care use and expenditures for older adult falls, diabetes and other chronic disease self-management, caregiver support and other issues in healthy aging, and one statewide technical assistance center to provide coordination and support. The YMCA would work with Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network (WAAN) to apply for these grants to fund expansion of a proven falls prevention program for older adults called “Moving for Better Balance.”

  • Every 29 minutes an older adult dies from a falls related injury.
  • According to CDC, programs like “Moving for Better Balance” help older adults reduce the risk of falling by 55%.
  • $540,000 over the biennium would help YMCA’s expand the number of sites offering this program from 8 to 28. The funds would train 60 new instructors and reach 4,500 new participants.

After School Care

Provide $20 million to fund after school programs (in partnership with WAAN and Boys & Girls Clubs). This would create a grant program to assist after school program sites. The program would provide:

    • Individual grants ranging from $50,000-$100,000.  
    • Additional funds would be available for transportation to eliminate that barrier.
    • To support areas that lack robust Out of School Time (OST) summer programming and to also address “the summer slide” additional funding would be available for OST summer programming.
    • Provide for renewable multi-year grants in order to create sustainability.
    • Providing flexibilities to address differences or special needs of applicants.
    • Tracking program requirements on mid-year and/or end-of-year reporting basis. This will help guide program evaluation in future years and contribute to continuous program improvement. 

Trauma Informed Care

Provide funding to non-profits for trauma informed care training for staff who work with children (in partnership with WAAN and Boys & Girls Clubs).


3K School Programs

We are concerned about the unintended consequences of the 3K expansion grants in the DPI budget request. This could cause the shutdown of daycare options for families and we encourage lawmakers to consider those consequences when working toward the worthy goal of increased educational opportunities for youth.


Foley and Lardner Contacts

Joe Leibham                       jleibham@foley.com           608.258.4257
Jason Childress                   jchildress@foley.com          608.250.7416
Jenny Malcore                     jmalcore@foley.com           608.257.5035

Click here  for PDF of last year's 2019-2020 legislative session priorities for Wisconsin YMCAs.