Critical hire and retention designations

Last updated: February 12, 2024

Child care enrollment policy for Seattle

APS 51.1: Enrollment for University On-Site Childcare Centers Located in Seattle outlines a process for which appointing authorities may recommend priority childcare placement for a faculty or staff member who plays or will play a key role within a unit. The following information is meant to guide leaders as to when and how to seek this designation and highlight the factors the Vice President for UWHR uses in considering requests.

With UW’s on-site childcare centers operating at 100% capacity and a wait time that averages 2 – 3 years for employees in the wait pool, it is important for leaders to understand that even if a request meets the requirements for critical hire or retention, a childcare spot may be unavailable. The University doesn’t remove families already enrolled in one of our childcare centers to make way for those with the critical designation. APS 51.1 provides that those who are designated as a critical hire/retention are moved to level 2 priority, which is second only to siblings awaiting enrollment at the same center as their family member.

It is assumed these requests are for individuals who do not have other options for care, need full-time care, and if placed, will remain in the center for at least 12 months after placement.

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Process and limitations

The request for priority access can only be made at the appointing authority level (dean, chancellor, vice presidents, vice provost, medical center executive director) under the following circumstances:

  • A faculty or staff member who plays a mission critical role within the organization has alerted department leadership that they have not been able to secure childcare through their own efforts.
  • This request can be made for an existing employee or a new recruit, but promises of a childcare space should not be made.

Appointing authorities may submit a written request to to request priority access and should include:

    • Name and title of caregiver(s) who work at UW.
    • Designation of whether request is for critical hire or critical retention.
    • A description of the reasons why this individual should be considered as a critical hire/retention.
    • Childcare center preference (West Campus, Portage Bay, Radford Court, Laurel Village, Harborview). Choosing more centers increases the chance of placement.
    • Child’s name and date of birth.
    • Preferred childcare start date.
    • Appropriate signatures and approvals are required for consideration.

Requests for critical hire/retention should be made as early as possible. As of January 2024, organizations are allowed no more than two approved requests per year.

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Review and approval process

The Vice President for UWHR reviews the information provided by the appointing authority to determine if the employee provides high level and unique expertise to the UW that would be significantly challenging to replace, along with:

  • The number of critical hire/retention requests the organization has requested and had approved over the last five years;
  • The number of children in the relevant age group waiting for a priority placement;
  • Additional preference is provided to families in which both parents work at the University of Washington.

When a critical hire/retention priority access is approved, it is valid until a placement offer is made or up to 6 months. All offers for placement are considered “one-time offers” and are non-negotiable as to center location or start date.

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Additional assistance for declined requests, or approved but space unavailable requests

UWHR will provide employees who have gone through the critical hire/retention process consultation on other child care opportunities located throughout the Seattle region.

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