A childcare worker shortage resulting from the pandemic has led University of Wisconsin students who are parents to feel unequipped with sufficient childcare services — but the UW Childcare Tuition Assistant Program is working to provide support.
In late October 2022, Gov. Tony Evers announced that Wisconsin received a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to go to the Department of Workforce Development. The grant was designed to be allocated toward early childhood education amid a childcare worker shortage.
The childcare worker shortage has caused childcare centers across the state to close, leaving families in vulnerable positions, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
One primary cause for the shortage of childcare workers is the COVID-19 pandemic. In the beginning of the pandemic, many childcare centers had to shut down and lay off employees, according to the Wisconsin Examiner. Childcare centers are still struggling to find staff while navigating everchanging pandemic protocol.
Though the childcare worker shortage can impact families everywhere, the shortage can create haste for UW student parents. Many students who are also parents do not feel equipped with sufficient childcare services while completing their degree, according to UW Childcare Tuition Assistance Program Parental Specialist Barb Douglas.
CCTAP is housed under the Office of Child Care and Family Resources at UW, and helps provide financial assistance for childcare costs. Through the support of CCTAP, the children of students can attend a childcare center on campus.
Douglas hopes that through the support of CCTAP, parents will be able to work at their full potential.
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But CCTAP cannot reach out to students through UW enrollment applications. As a result, the program provides information about its services for students through flyers, social media platforms and email chains, according to Douglas.
“All we can do is put ourselves out there as much as we can and hope that they [students] find us,” Douglas said.
Douglas works with her team to ensure UW is using its available resources to support student parents, helping them with childcare as they complete their degrees. Through this support, parents have a larger support network, which can aid them during their studies, Douglas said.
CCTAP is currently doing everything they can to assist students with children, but hope to expand in the future — offering daycare options and hiring more staff, Douglas said.
Through CCTAP, UW students that are parents do not need to feel the drastic effects the childcare worker shortage can have on some families, Douglas said.
“We’re always trying to recruit every single student parent that’s on the campus,” Douglas said.