Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Ann Bieringer provides child care during pandemic

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GREENFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Child care has been a big issue for many parents during the pandemic. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families estimates 25 percent of day cares may close permanently. This week’s everyday hero managed to stay open these last few months, providing child care for the kids of essential workers.

“Real soft, okay,” Ann Bieringer said to a little girl, helping another child on a swing on the playground of Little Light of Mine Daycare and Learning Center.

A few months ago, this could have been the scene at any number of day care centers around the area.

“This week is our camping week,” Bieringer said. “So, Friday was a special day, we had pajama day.”

Kids in their pj’s packed the playground. Some had flashlights. Inside, campfire art work covered the walls, and the kids had enjoyed s’mores.

“You couldn't find a better day care. The people here, her workers, love these kids,” said friend, Donna Muelver.

Bieringer runs Little Light of Mine Daycare in Greenfield. She said the safer at home shutdown hit her facility hard.

“It was huge. I mean, we went almost immediately down from 37 to 39 kids to 10 kids a day. Instantly,” she said.

But those 10 kids needed a place to go, because their parents are essential workers.

“Those parents were the ones who were nurses, some that were still providing education, some that were grocery stores, some that were managers in retail,” Bieringer explained.

She found a way to make it work. Some of her clients prepaid their fees.

“That helped us get through to the point, we never made it through the first PPP plan, but we did for the second and it got us through right up to that point,” she said.

Bieringer also stepped in when other, larger centers were forced to close by the shut down.

“We're listed with the Department of Children and Families, so they provided us for a short time with firefighter families, so it was huge, I think,” she said.

Muelver thinks Bieringer is a hero for watching over the kids while their parents served their communities. Bieringer said they have been really appreciative.

“They were very thankful, because a lot of the day cares, they had the option to close and they did,” she said.

Muelver has seen Bieringer fight to stay open, making sure the kids had a safe place to go.

“When COVID-19 hit, she was still at it, just going, going, going, and I thought, boy, this is a person who needs some recognition,” Muelver said.

Little Light of Mine is now back up to serving 19 kids a day, and as parents go back to work, they hope to expand. They are accepting new clients. For more information, CLICK HERE

If you’d like to nominate someone for Natalie’s Everyday Heroes, send Natalie an email at nshepherd@cbs58.com.

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