Based on concerns expressed by employees and students about the scarcity of local child care options, Northern Michigan University has signed a contract with WeeCare, the largest network of licensed child care providers in the United States.
WeeCare works to recruit in-home providers with at least three years of teaching experience to care for infants through school-aged children. It supports them through state licensure, including background checks, and supplies them with curricula, enrollment support and other resources.
Rhea Dever, assistant vice president of NMU Human Resources, said in addition to matching parents or guardians with childcare or backup childcare options, WeeCare works to understand what needs are not currently being met and recruit additional in-home care providers.
“They do have some providers in the Marquette area that may be able to meet some of the immediate demand that employees or students have, but they realize that they will likely need to develop more providers,” Dever said. “It's a process that would take about three months, but they have had success doing this in other rural areas.
“Given the challenges employees and students have with finding childcare, this was a really interesting model and worth pursuing. We are excited and hopeful that this partnership will facilitate a much-needed solution for our employees and students, who would be given first priority for placement with WeeCare providers.”
Dever said the average monthly cost for care is estimated to range from $625-$850 for infants and preschoolers. WeeCare services include access to a dedicated care manager to help with finding and enrolling in childcare that includes full-time, part-time, backup, drop-in and overnight options; 24/7 support for finding care and managing the experience once someone opts into the service; and pandemic learning pods.
Human Resources will send an email to employees and work through ASNMU to reach students with related information and web links. Communications are being finalized and will be distributed in the next few business days. Parents or guardians can opt in by completing a questionnaire that requests information including their needs, the age of their children and the hours/days childcare is needed.
According to its website, all WeeCare childcare providers are safety-certified, curriculum-based and have stringent health protocols to keep families safe. The network, with more than 2,500 locations, has been featured on PBS NewsHour and in Forbes and Business Insider.
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C., “Rural communities desperately need more child care supply in general, as well as family child care specifically, in order to sustain their local economies. The nationwide decline in home-based child care options over the recent decade suggests that rural communities are impacted the most, with fewer licensed child care options close to their home or work.”
For more information, visit weecare.co.
Dever can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 227-2333.