Green Bay, Wis.—Recognized as a need at UW-Green Bay for decades, childcare and caregiving burdens on students, faculty, and staff are even heavier during COVID-19. A recent grant, of $81,046.00 per year for four years, awarded to UW-Green Bay by the Department of Education will provide stipend support to Pell-eligible student parents to help ease their financial burden for childcare and access to programming, advising, and mentorship to improve their educational outcomes. The same funding will also provide seed money to initiate research and a planning process for a potential childcare facility on the Green Bay Campus or in partnership with a local provider.
Nearly 25 percent of all undergraduate college students are raising children. Recent data shows that about half of all college students earn a degree or certificate within six years of enrolling, while only a third of student parents complete school (https://iwpr.org/iwpr-issues/student-parent-success-initiative/building-family-friendly-campuses-college-success-student-parents/).
Associate Prof. Alison Staudinger (Democracy and Justice Studies), a project lead, says the grant will provide some immediate help for a growing demographic in higher education—the working parent.
“The grant application specifies criteria for the application process for students which will provide $1,000 a semester for full-time students and funding on a prorated basis for part-time students,” she said. “It will also offer additional funds for students who participate in high-impact practices (HIPs) such as internships, undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity, or community-based learning. A recent study by professors Katia Levintova and Kim Reilly indicated that childcare and work commitments often limit the ability of UW-Green Bay student-parents to participate in HIPs.
Additionally, the funding will allow the campus to explore the sustainability of providing a daycare to students, faculty and staff—either on campus, or in partnership with local providers.
“Students with children bring assets to our campus community and yet they are a bit of an invisible population,” Staudinger said. “If we are truly an access-driven institution, we need to provide the support that makes it possible for them to thrive at UWGB. This means financial, academic, and social resources for the student-parents themselves, but also raising visibility on campus so that faculty and staff recognize the unique needs of this population and their contributions to campus life.”
Childcare has been a hot-button topic at UW-Green Bay for years, and has a rich history on the Green Bay Campus. See the full timeline. Here’s an abbreviated one:
1972: UWGB Children’s Center opened and began offering classes for children ages 2-5 in a vacated nursing home building owned by Brown County located along Highway 54-57. Within months it moved to a remodeled ranch cottage owned by UWGB on Nicolet Drive.
1981:Three full-time staff and twenty-five work study students cared for 164 children.
1985:Plans for a new facility began as building was in disrepair
1989:The UWGB Children’s Center program became the first in Green Bay to receive accreditation from the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs.
1990:New UW-Green Bay child care center building center request approved by UW Board of Regents at funding level of $790,000.
1991:Plan was rejected by Wisconsin State Building Commission because it was viewed as a lower priority than other UW System and state agency projects. UWGB did receive $50,000 in funds to evaluate alternatives for a child care facility at UW-Green Bay. A feasibility study was requested to consider a public/private venture model for the UWGB Children’s Center.
1992-1995: Funding issues prevented continuation of facility.
Spring of 1995: Children’s Center formally closed.
2014: UWGB students voted to increase Seg Fees in support of bringing childcare back to campus.
Staudinger says the plan has full support of the current administration and cabinet. The Advisory Board will convene in Fall 2020; interested campus and community members are invited to contact Alison Staudinger if they wish to get involved. An expanded set of web-resources and the application for the grant itself will be launched in early 2021, as will student success programming for parents. Please watch for an announcement of a kick-off event in where the campus community can learn about the program and how to apply.
In the featured photo above: the UWGB Childcare Alliance supported a Spring into Gardening event.