College of Education starts effort to establish day-care program on campus
As the UA is the only Pac-12 school without a day-care program, an effort spearheaded by the College of Education aims to establish one in upcoming years.
The day care would support around 200 children from infant to preschool age and would be available for students, faculty, staff and the Tucson community, said Ronald Marx, the College of Education’s dean.
A location has yet to be determined. Marx said that the day-care facility would probably not be on campus, but would be in an area appropriate for children and easily accessible to students and faculty with children. He added that the hours for the facility would likely be from about 7:30 a.m. or 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m.
“To be successful because of the nature of academic work, we would need some flex time in the morning and the late afternoon,” Marx said. “Usually what they [child care centers] do is have an early arrival and a late departure room so the children that have to come early go to a particular room and stay in that room until 8 o’clock or whatever the start time is, and then they go to their regular group.”
The college has looked at other universities to see how their programs work, especially the University of Illinois and Kansas State University’s programs, since theirs have been in place for decades, Marx said.
Although the college is still working on the funding model, Marx said, administrators wouldn’t ask the UA to build a facility.
How students will pay for the service has not yet been decided, but various ideas are in the works, including raising tuition or allocating a fee per semester for all students.
Kristin Melendez, a public health senior, takes her daughter, Kyla, to the Kindercare, a non-UA-affiliated day care, on East First Street. Melendez said the addition of a facility for child care, specific to the UA, would be financially beneficial to her.
“I think I can be more supportive of it as a fee,” Melendez said. “I’m a single parent, so it would help me out a great deal. It’s definitely always about my daughter first, but to be relieved of such a financial load would be amazing.”
If a fee were to be implemented, that would be the job of the Graduate and Professional Student Council or the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. Marx said that at the universities that have had their day care programs for a while, their students had levied for a small semester fee, typically $1 per student. This fee would go into a pot where students with children could fill out an application to obtain a subsidy to send their child to the day care.
GPSC President Zachary Brooks said that he would be willing to work with the College of Education to have a day care at the university. Last year, GPSC made a proposal through the Student Services Fee Advisory Board to put aside $25,000 for the UA’s Life and Work Connections to help facilitate child care services for all students.
“Because we’ve been taking a leadership on this [child care services] for so long, we’re really willing to work with anyone,” Brooks said.
Implementing the services was in Brooks’ platform as a GPSC presidential candidate last spring.
In addition to providing child care, Marx added that the program at the UA would offer internships and research opportunities for students, as well.
“We’re a land grant university,” Marx said. “So we would be providing service, obviously to the children and the families. We would be providing instruction because we would be running some of our internships, practica and other programs such as research programs.”
Melendez added that there should be a lot of interns working at the UA’s day care. She doesn’t want the class size to be large enough that children are distracted and not learning due to lack of staff. One of the reasons she chose to have Kyla attend Kindercare was because she didn’t want her child sitting at home watching cartoons, she said.
With an obvious need for a university day care, Marx added that administrators are determined to work something out.
“There’s clearly a need on campus,” he said, “and there have been unsuccessful efforts in the past to do this.”