Madison College will acquire the City of Madison’s Fire Station Number 6 for $1 and build a new childcare center to serve students, staff and community members on the city’s south side, the college and city announced today.
The City will build a new fire station on nearby city property.
Construction is set to begin next year with an anticipated opening date of fall 2025. Initially, the center will have four classrooms and capacity for 50 children aged infant to 4, officials said. A second phase will add a second story, double capacity and begin to offer academic programming.
Madison College President Dr. Jack E. Daniels III said he co-chaired a group of business leaders who “identified childcare as the most important barrier that needed to be addressed for recruiting and retaining employees.”
He said it was about 18 months ago that Madison College leaders and a variety of partners – Latino Academy of Workforce Development, Urban League of Greater Madison, Centro Hispano, Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, Madison YWCA, One City School and the Center for Black Excellence and Culture – began to lay the groundwork to expand options for childcare on the south side.
“There is widespread recognition that the lack of quality childcare is a barrier to students wanting to attend Madison College and obtain the skills that propel them into employment with family sustaining wages, and/or continuing their education at four-year institutions,” Daniels said. “Not having accessible and available child care is also a barrier for recruitment and retention of employees at our local businesses, both large and small. Addressing both barriers is tremendously crucial to establishing and maintaining strong economic and community development.”
Jessiaca Cioci, Dean of Human and Protective Services at Madison College, said the center will serve not only student parents but also the wider community. She noted that nationally, one in five students is also a parent, and the rate at community colleges is even higher. She said often student parents have a higher GPA than other students but still take longer to complete their programs. Having childcare on campus could help, she said.
Daniels said the child care program was envisioned as a “six day program” that would be open early mornings as well as second shift. Cioce said it would also provide drop-in care for students in evening classes.
Cioce said the child care center would hire professional staff as well as employing students. Students in the college’s early childhood education program would gain important professional experience there, and other students will also be able to participate in work-study opportunities as well.
Madison College Vice President of Finance and Administration Sylvia Ramirez said the center would use the same fee structure as the center currently operating at the school’s Truax Campus: a base rate with a sliding scale for low-income families. Students could also access additional grant funds to offset the cost.
Also on hand for the announcement was Madison Alder Isadore Knox, who represents the neighborhood.
“I think the most important thing is when we have these government collaborations, and they’re really providing very needed services for our residents. That’s the big payoff,” he said. “People can build things that look nice and all of that. But this is really about the services that we provide to the residents in our community.”
“This is a great example of what we can do when we work together,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said.
The project’s initial funding will come in the form of a $2.9 million Workforce Innovation Grant from the State of Wisconsin. Daniels declined to give an estimate of the total cost, but said he hopes the rest of the funding will come together in the next few months.
Rhodes-Conway also said initial approval for the concept of moving the fire station has been obtained from the Community Development Authority, and that subsequent construction contracts would be subject to Common Council approval. She said Fire Station Number 6 has been on the list of facilities to renovate for several years, in large part because it lacks adequate facilities for women firefighters. Rhodes-Conway said estimates to renovate the building to ensure gender equity would actually cost more than building a new fire station.