Revised: November 11, 2022

**Given that the term “child care” can be a limiting one and may not accurately describe some UW System institutional programs, in this paper the term “children’s centers” is used to describe institutional facilities providing child care and meeting other instructional and academic/institutional support needs.

I. Background to UW System Administrative Policy 180 (SYS 180), Child Care Centers

The 1987 University System Administrative Policy 180 (SYS 180), Child Care Centers has been revised so as to expand the original document by affirming and/or addressing the following issues: 1) access to child care for students, faculty, and staff is crucial and the institution must make every effort to ensure that all child care needs are met; 2) children’s centers have instructional obligations and academic/institutional support roles on campus to be recognized and documented; 3) varying with the institutional mission, these obligations (such as providing teaching certification) require qualified staff; 4) use of funding sources must be clarified; 5) accountability measures are needed; 6) if appropriate to the center’s mission, research findings in child development and early childhood education should be reflected in the center’s operation.

This policy provides guidelines that permit appropriate variation between and among institutions, yet insure compliance with Board policy. Each UW System institution must define “children’s center” in the context of its own needs, decide upon a mission for the children’s center (or differing missions for particular children’s centers if an institution has more than one), and set institutional priorities regarding the services that the center(s) provide. System Administration guidelines are to be used in the operation of any “children’s center” or “child care center” with an official institutional affiliation, as defined by the institution. Examples of the factors to be considered by each institution are listed in Appendix A, Enumerated Needs of Various Institutional Constituencies.

A. University Obligation for Quality

All University of Wisconsin System children’s centers have an obligation to provide high quality care for children, as well as to ensure high standards in teaching, research and public service. Therefore, each institutional children’s center should seek and maintain accreditation by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs [NAECP]. NAECP accreditation will insure that the program meets accepted quality standards for: staff-child interactions; curriculum; staff-parent interactions; administration; staff-child ratio; group size; staff qualifications and training; physical environment; health and safety; nutrition; and continuous program evaluation.

All extant university children’s centers should be accredited within five years of the effective date of this policy and should continuously maintain accreditation. New children’s centers should be accredited within three years.**

**When an institution uses private contractors, the contractor selected should be experienced in obtaining and maintaining NAECP-accredited facilities and must seek and maintain accreditation for new university facilities.

II. Board of Regents Policy

Board of Regents’ policy on child care is stated in “Equal Opportunities in Education Eliminating Discrimination Based on Gender,” adopted by the Board of Regents on April 12, 1974, and amended October 7, 1983. The policy states:

As an alternative to community child care when it does not meet the needs of the institution/unit, each university should set a goal of seeing that top quality, low cost child care and extended child care services, preferably campus based, are available to the children of students, faculty, and staff.

Board of Regents’ policy regarding child care was confirmed and amplified in Planning the Future (1986) in Resolution SG 18, “The Future of Child Care Services in the UW System.” It states:

  1. Each institution shall work wherever possible with community groups, including cooperative organizations, to provide quality, low-cost child care services to students, faculty and staff.
  2. Where community child care does not meet the needs of an institution/unit, the institution should find reliable sources of funding to maintain current child care commitments and move toward meeting additional documented needs.

A. Other UW System and State of Wisconsin Policies and Guidelines

Relevant UW System and State of Wisconsin policies include the following** [detailed descriptions of UW System Financial and Administrative Policies are included in Appendix B]:

**While no current policy deals with security for students, faculty, staff, and invited campus guests, all institutions have practices and procedures for campus-wide safety. Such practices and procedures should be actively applied to institutional children’s center(s)

III. Guidelines for Implementing Board Policy

In order to meet the requirements of Board policy, certain guidelines and conditions must be met by all UW System institutions’ children’s centers, within the context of institutional mission statements and allowing for appropriate institutional variations.

1. Study of Community Availability and Institutional Needs

In order to assess whether or not community child care providers can meet the needs of the university, an institution planning a new center must gather available statewide sources of data on community child care providers, available services, and estimated needs (including standardized data sources such as “Child Care Supply and Demand: A Forecast for Wisconsin,” updated and published annually by the Wisconsin Child Care Improvement Project, Inc., and community resource and referral data). In consideration of community providers, the survey should address at least the systemwide “Enumerated Needs” [see Appendix A], NAECP accreditation, and additional institutionally specific needs, such as the needs of target populations. The children’s centers directors’ consortium shall develop community assessment procedures that are consistent regarding both expectations for children’s centers and regarding populations of the centers.

If there is a concern about inappropriate competition with community providers, the institution should follow procedures described in Board of Regents’ policy “Competition with the Private Sector,” Board Resolution number 5153.

After assessing community resources and institutional needs, institutions must then designate their own priorities in terms of the mission for their children’s center[s], range of possible activities, and available funding sources according to functions. If all needs cannot be met, each UW System institution will prioritize its goals and determine means to achieve them within the guidelines.

IV. Definitions and Illustrations by Activity

Children’s centers integrate many of the appropriate activities of the university under one roof; while these activities are programmatically unified, their primary purposes must be categorized in order to designate funding sources. Children’s centers generally use one accounting activity code, but may use more if the center is organized to serve multiple purposes or missions.

To aid the institutions in identifying the functions of children’s centers, Appendix C provides the National Association of College and University Business Officers [NACUBO] definitions. As discussed and charted in Section 5, the mix of activities and the percentage of total effort will vary with each UW System institution and perhaps among institutional children’s centers (when an institution has more than one). The functions include: student services, instructional/academic support, basic and applied research, public service/outreach, institutional support, and auxiliary enterprises.

V. Funding Sources to Operate Children’s Centers

Fee policy should reflect funding sources. Segregated fees may be used to reduce the cost of child care for student-parents only; neither faculty/staff nor community users may be subsidized by segregated fees. While user fees are usually the primary method of funding for all institutional children’s centers, GPR/fee and/or in kind support should be determined by the individual institution.

Children’s centers must be funded by sources appropriate to its activities. UW System institutions vary widely in the use of and purposes for their children’s centers. Institutions are responsible for the assignment of costs according to activity, weighing the mix of program activities accordingly.**

**The following are preferred/allowable funding sources by activity:

GPR/ Fees Seg.Fees User Fees Gifts/Grants
Student Services A A P A
Instruction/Acad. Support P N A A
Research A N A A
Public Service/Outreach P N A A
Institutional Support A N P A
Auxiliary Enterprises N N P A

Budgeting and accounting methodology must be established to properly classify the expenditures, if material, and adjusted by the institution. Center directors and other involved administrators should work closely with institutional budget officers on appropriate assignment of costs. Cost assignments will be subject to normal institutional and System Administration review. The “budgetary home” for children’s center accounting should be determined by the institution, based on the mission and primary purpose of the program. The combination of funding sources must be consistent with UW System Administrative Policy 822 (SYS 822), Student Services Funding.

1. Accountability

As is the case with all other units at UW System institutions, children’s centers shall be subject to periodic internal audit, conducted by UW System auditors. Among the areas to be audited are: maintenance of adequate records and budget plans; appropriateness of fee-setting policies; and alignment of funding sources with center activities.

Centers are responsible for keeping records regarding, for example, the type and frequency of faculty and student research activity, the amount of instructional activity, and/or the type and amount of public service work.

Institutions and/or individual children’s centers are responsible for conducting periodic surveys of their parent-clients, assessing client satisfaction.

2. Exceptions

Exceptions to the policies and procedures in this paper are permitted, but only with the written approval of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Finance and Administration. At a minimum, requests must include: 1) demonstrated need; 2) discussion of the impact upon parent-client costs and services, and 3) demonstrated consistency with the purposes of the policies and procedures contained in SYS 180, Child Care Centers.