Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:
Last spring, in collaboration with faculty governance, we convened a Twin Cities campus-wide advisory committee to examine cost-effective options for the provision of child care for faculty, staff, and students. This discussion was initially spurred by academic and capital planning that would have resulted in closure of the Child Development Center, a plan that was put on hold while we looked more closely at child care issues for the campus.
We are pleased to share the report submitted by the Provost’s Child Care Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee worked diligently thoroughout the summer, using peer benchmarking, historical context and data, and campus community feedback to inform its work. The committee’s excellent report underscores the importance of access to high-quality child care for our campus community and emphasizes the critical role accessible child care plays in University recruitment, retention, and overall faculty, staff and student well-being.
We affirm the guiding values outlined by the committee and will use its thoughtful recommendations to guide our path forward. In particular, we will pursue three overarching goals: to expand child care to serve more campus families; to prioritize ongoing investments of University resources in programs advancing our mission of teaching, research, and outreach; and to minimize disruption for children, parents, staff, and teachers of existing programs. In particular, we will:
1. Integrate the Shirley G. Moore Lab School and the Child Development Center (CDC) into a single, academically rooted program. No children or staff will be displaced from either program. The integrated program, which will be linked to the academic program of our outstanding Institute for Child Development (ICD), will expand and enhance both research and community engagement opportunities in early childhood education and development. This will ground the program firmly within the University’s mission. It will use existing CDC curriculum, while providing greater flexibility for families through both full-day and part-day options. Existing wait lists will be honored. Staff and teachers will continue to be University employees. The integration will be phased in over time in a joint collaboration by University administration and the college.
2. Phase in new child care capacity incrementally on or near campus. The University is committed to fund an expansion of the new, integrated Lab School to serve no fewer children--and perhaps more--than today. The University will also seek opportunities to collaborate with external partners to further expand care options. Over time, we hope to offer sites on or near the East and West Banks, as well as in St. Paul, aligned with the priorities noted in #3, below.
3. Prioritize programming and curricula that advance the goals and values of the committee’s report: deliver on best practices and quality criteria, strengthen affordability and access for all families, provide career wages and benefits for staff, and offer part-time enrollment options.
To initiate this work, we’ve asked: 1) CEHD leaders to finalize a recommendation for an integrated Lab School program within the Institute for Child Development; 2) the University’s capital planning group to begin predesign of an expansion of the existing CDC facility; and 3) University Services and Purchasing to begin drafting an RFP process for potential partnerships for additional high-quality child care sites. We believe there are opportunities for partnerships that could provide high-quality child care in programs that place a value on access for families at all income levels, while paying wages and benefits comparable to those offered at the University.
4. As recommended by the committee, we plan to establish a standing advisory committee as a vehicle for continued campus input.
We understand this is a critically important issue to the Twin Cities campus community. These initial steps are in accord with the values articulated in the committee’s report, and they direct the campus to begin work that is aligned with the direction of the committee’s recommendations. For ongoing updates, please look to the Provost’s Child Care Advisory Committee website. We will continue to explore additional strategies and solutions in consultation and dialogue with the campus.
The 20-member committee was co-chaired by Dan Feeney, professor of veterinary clinical sciences and immediate past chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and Planning, and Amy Pittenger, associate professor of pharmaceutical care and health systems and vice chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee. They—and all members of the committee—worked thoughtfully and energetically and delivered an exceptionally useful roadmap for progress; we are very grateful for their service.
Eric W. Kaler
Executive Vice President and Provost
Email sent September 18, 2018 to all Twin Cities faculty, staff, and students.