By Angelina Sirak
KU’s Women’s Consortium is focusing its efforts on bringing back a campus daycare facility for children of faculty and students.
Erin Kraal, head coordinator of the Women’s Consortium, said the group is currently in the information-gathering stage. The group plans to send a survey to all faculty members regarding the lack of childcare resources and how it impacts their careers.
“The advocacy stage is important and getting perspectives is critical,” said Kraal. They need to document the impact to show how many people really need this support from KU.
Their objective is to remind the current administration that this service was once available and that it used to be a selling point for KU.
The Women’s Consortium is going to move forward with determining a potential space KU can use for the service sometime during the fall semester. At this point, they have not looked into costs.
KU used to provide a daycare located in KU’s Old Main, which was run by a YMCA. The YMCA took infants starting at 6 weeks to age 4, according to Kraal.
“KU received notice from the Tri Valley YMCA on May 12, 2011 that they were closing the Kutztown University Day Care effective June 30, 2011,” said Gerald Silberman, KU Vice President for Administration and Finance. The YMCA cited consistent operating losses, despite cutting back on staff, as their reason for closure.
“Due to financial stress the year before the daycare closure, we didn’t consider ways to support the replacement of this service,” said Silberman.
Kraal said, “Having childcare on campus would really strengthen the community because we can help parents at a very vulnerable point.”
“Childcare is a faculty, staff and especially student issue,” said Kraal. Over a quarter (26%) of all undergraduate students are raising dependent children in the United States, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy research.
“Whether you’re a parent living in or commuting to KU, you have to leave town for a daycare service because they aren’t provided,” explained Kraal.
Full-time KU junior and parent Tyleah Bidin said a daycare at KU would help her avoid the struggle of making childcare arrangements for her 8-month-old daughter.
Bidin commutes from Philadelphia every day and said, “Going to school and dropping
her off near campus will allow me to focus and attend classes with more ease.”
“I know KU used to offer a daycare and that was one of the attractive features about the school,” said Bidin.
Emily Cripe, communication professor and parent-faculty member of her 10-month-old son also expressed frustration with the lack of childcare resources. “When my husband and I are working at the same time, I don’t know what we’re going to do for childcare,” said Cripe.
Cripe said, “It’s definitely a barrier because until he’s three, we don’t really have child care options in KU.” She concluded that a daycare on campus would definitely make her life easier as well as students who are in the same position.
Kraal related this issue back to KU President’s goal of supporting and retaining diverse faculty. “Diverse faculty are most likely not from here, so they need help if they’re parents,” said Kraal.
In order to retain student diversity and support, Kraal said a daycare would help them transition and keep them at KU.
“Every semester I have at least one student parent who does not return to KU,” said Kraal. “Because they don’t have enough help with childcare.”