Wake Forest University Announces On-Campus Childcare Center

The university said childcare availability is one of the first things faculty and staff ask about before accepting a job. The center is set to open in early fall 2024.
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Published on November 2, 2023
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  • The center will offer care for infants through preschool-age children and be designed for five-star NC quality-rated licensure and National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation.
  • A 2022 BestColleges survey found that 59% of respondents believe a lack of access to childcare hinders career advancement for working parents.
  • The Biden administration announced $13 million for 34 colleges for childcare programs in October.

Wake Forest University (WFU) students, faculty, and staff will soon have the option of bringing their children to on-campus childcare.

The Winston-Salem, North Carolina, university announced plans for a childcare and early education center last week. The center, which is slated to open in fall 2024, will provide care for infants through preschool-age children. And it will be designed for five-star NC quality-rated licensure and National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation.

"Offering access to high-quality childcare underscores our commitment to the well-being of the Wake Forest community," university President Susan R. Wente said in a press release. "This has long been an important priority for our faculty and staff, and I am thrilled that we are on a path to opening a childcare center within the year."

University faculty, staff, and students will receive priority enrollment, with more details coming in early 2024. The center will help alleviate a childcare shortage and long wait lists in the city and support a critical need for the WFU community, said Simone Caron, a history professor and longtime advocate for childcare on campus for the past three decades.

According to Provost Michele Gillespie, childcare availability is one of the first things faculty and staff ask about before joining the university.

"Being able to say 'yes' to that question will be a game changer for both the recruitment and retention of excellent employees," Gillespie said in the press release. "Balancing work and family is challenging, and we want everyone in our community to thrive personally and professionally."

A 2022 BestColleges survey found that 56% of parents postponed career-related activities because of limited childcare. And 59% believe a lack of access to childcare hinders career advancement for working parents.

BestColleges previously reported that about half of student-parents said in a survey that their institution did not offer childcare. Eighty-two percent of student-parents live below the poverty line, according to the survey. And most student-parents attend school full time and work over 20 hours a week.

Initiatives to Expand Childcare on College Campuses

Higher education over the last year has seen increasing attention to and investment in childcare facilities on college campuses across the country as institutions and governments look to improve student success.

Last fall, the state of New York expanded childcare access at State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) campuses to address "childcare deserts."

"Expanding high-quality, affordable child care options is an essential piece of creating a more equitable and accessible higher education system for New Yorkers," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a press release announcing the funding.

Last March, the National Head Start Association and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) announced an expansion of childcare Head Start centers for community colleges nationwide.

"Almost half of postsecondary students with children attend community colleges," ACCT President and CEO Jee Hang Lee said in the release. "Abundant evidence shows that child care is a primary barrier that keeps too many community college students from persisting and completing their education."

Last month, the Biden administration awarded $13 million to 34 colleges and universities across 18 states for childcare programs, including Carteret Community College and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

"I am a big believer in campus childcare programs because I've seen how they break down barriers to upskilling and attaining postsecondary education for parents with young children — bringing the American Dream within reach for families across America," Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona previously said.