The Office of Child Care and Family Resources presented their budget proposal for their Child Care Tuition Assistance Program to the Student Services Finance Committee on Monday night.
CCTAP is a program that provides financial assistance to income-eligible University of Wisconsin student parents for their child care expenses. According to their website, their goals are to encourage student parents to choose consistent, high-quality child care, enable student parents to complete their degree in a timely manner and focus attention on family and academic responsibilities.
CCTAP Director Cigdem Unal spoke to SSFC about the several early childhood education programs that CCTAP provides, which include three campus centers, six UW child care network centers, 25 directors leading early childhood programs and many other benefits.
Unal spoke about the importance of high-quality childhood education and how quality childhood programs set children up for success in life and in school.
“It’s kind of like a ripple effect as I mentioned — beyond two generation effect. We are contributing to a future workforce. We are supporting businesses by creating, educating high-quality workers for the future and the current economy,” Unal said.
Unal also talked about the several campus child care challenges that student parents face. She said 26% of all undergraduate students raise children while in school, and 71% of those parents are female — of which 25% are single parents. Unal mentioned that student parents are especially unlikely to complete a certificate or degree program within six years of enrollment.
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Unal said the major challenges student parents face are accessibility to affordable child care and finding resources to support themselves to address isolation, stress, mental health and child management issues while balancing school. She added that 97% of students report adequate child care arrangements are essential to their ability to focus on studies
Unal said that 279 total students applied to CCTAP in the 2018-2019 year of which 233 received CCTAP for at least one semester with only 16 being denied mostly because they earned over CCTAP’s income limit.
Unal said the size of families that CCTAP supports ranges from two to six members, and 50% of CCTAP funded students live below or around the poverty line.
CCTAP also provides other services aside from child care to help student parents complete their degrees.
“In addition to providing high-quality childhood program settings for our students’ children, we also provide additional programming that parents can enroll for a very minimal fee or no fee at all,” Unal said.
They provide music and movement classes and parent consultations with Dr. Laura Froyen. She said last year’s additional funds of $7,500 helped double the number of sessions available with Dr. Froyen — which filled up immediately. CCTAP also provides family yoga and a balanced parenting playgroup which helps students connect with other student parents.
“We like to create a platform to connect our student families. Sometimes our student parents share with us that they feel isolated, they feel so stressed out, they feel lonely. This is a platform and opportunity to connect with other student parents and share their joy and concerns or questions,” Unal said.
CCTAP also provides internships and other opportunities for UW students to gain practical teaching experience. More than 95 student employees work around four to 12 hours a week, with pay rates between $12 and $13.95.
Unal explained CCTAP’s priorities for 2020 to 2021 which include continuing to work to increase family grants, building support networks, ensuring enough funding to support families with the lowest income and highest needs among many others.
Unal ended with asking for a two percent increase in CCTAP’s budget. SSFC will vote on the CCTAP budget at their Feb. 27 meeting.