Bridging Pathways: Cross-Walking Professional Training with College-Level Courses for Equitable Access to Higher Education for Direct Care Staff

In, 2022, a meeting was held with the University of Wisconsin, Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) and Lad Lake Inc. to explore opportunities for collaboration and create pathways for individuals who had faced barriers in obtaining a college degree due to life circumstances.  All participants acknowledged that many working adults, particularly from marginalized communities, had experienced systemic racism that hindered their academic and educational success. Additionally, it was recognized that these individuals possessed valuable lived experiences and skills equivalent to college-level coursework, specifically in fields such as social and human services.

The primary focus of the meeting was to examine the feasibility of aligning professional training with college-level courses and determine if college credit equivalencies could be established. The attendees agreed that WCTC’s Human Services Department curriculum and Lad Lake’s professional development program were most suitable for this crosswalk initiative. UWM at Waukesha expressed their readiness to provide related liberal arts courses if the need arose.  A follow up meeting discussed the initial findings of the crosswalk and determine the subsequent actions.

Ultimately, it was concluded that Lad Lake employees who had completed all mandatory professional training courses within their first six months of employment could potentially earn college credits for four WCTC courses, totaling 12 credit hours. These courses included Intro to Human Services, Practicum 1, Human Services Interventions, and Understanding Diversity. The next steps involved verifying the initial findings after Becky Effiong returned from maternity leave towards the end of the 2022 calendar year. Additionally, the process for Lad Lake employees to obtain admissions and have their credits transcribed onto their WCTC transcripts needed to be established.

Currently, the partners, are actively working on the formal admissions process, credit evaluation, credit transcription, and the development of a communication plan for both internal and external stakeholders. They are also exploring the creation of a Human Services internship cohort and outlining steps for degree completion. We will continue to evaluate and share the lessons learned from this process to develop a social service/higher education model.


Donelle Hauser

CEO , Lad Lake