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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA officials in developing stages of creating long delayed child care center

    After years of delays and obstacles, the UA is looking to build a campus daycare center for student, faculty and staff parents.

    Earlier in the semester, the “”UA Daycare Initiative,”” a term coined by Tommy Bruce, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, began work toward making the daycare center a reality.

    “”This committee will be developing criteria and a vision for what might comprise a child care center, and then we will explore the potential for private sector involvement,”” said Melissa Vito, vice president of student affairs. “”There is not a guarantee that this will result in a child care center, rather it will help us determine the feasibility of this type of an approach.””

    “”(Creating a daycare program) has been tried in the past, and there’s just been one road block or another that made the whole process basically stall and then fall apart,”” said Catherine Neish, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council. “”What I’m hoping is different about this year is that it’s not going to cost the university very much to do this.””

    The extra needs of student parents were expressed in a survey conducted in spring 2006. The survey, which was assembled by FMR Associations, collected opinions and statements from 191 student parents to determine the child care needs among them.

    Ninety percent of those polled rated an on- or near-campus child care service to be “”very beneficial.””

    Christine Duddleston, a family studies and human development senior, is a mother of three, the youngest of whom is two-and-a-half years old.

    Duddleston believes convenience of proximity in both child and health care services would be among the most valuable benefits.

    “”We have the experts on campus and if some type of participation from campus departments or colleges exists, then the level of care would be second to none,”” Duddleston said.

    Another seven surveyed said class attendance was affected at least once a week by child care needs.

    Duddleston uses a child care center off-campus. In the short time that her daughter Yzabel, now six years old, attended the daycare, she had seven different teachers.

    “”The pay rate is so poor that people just up and quit. This is tough when kids and sometimes parents get attached to the caregivers. Even though (Yzabel) couldn’t talk, she would be fussy and would not eat. I had to cut my work hours so that I could spend more time nursing her,”” Duddleston said.

    “”(Student parents) are a minority of students, but they are a very vulnerable minority. And I think we should go out of our way to help these folks,”” Neish said.

    In order to lessen, and perhaps neutralize, the cost of the daycare for the UA, the committee has decided to hire an outside contractor.

    The first step in securing a contractor to facilitate the construction and operation of the daycare center is to propose a feasible vision for the contractors to bid on.

    In order to construct a more informed proposal, however, the committee has opted to compose a Complex Request for Proposal first.

    A Complex RFP would help the committee narrow down potential bidders before the formal RFP is released, Neish said. She said it’s something she wants to be completed by the end of the semester.

    After the contractor is chosen, the construction for the daycare would be able to begin. Until then, the UA offers some programs to help student, faculty and staff parents.

    These include a child care referral program; BabyCats, a social networking group that also helps parents locate babysitters; and a subsidy program, which helps student parents financially.

    “”I will give the university some credit for trying. But you want the full complement, and we are missing a kind of integral part. I also think it’s kind of symbolic. It’s a very visible expression of the university’s support for the families on this campus,”” Neish said.

    In the Pacific 10 Conference, the UA is the only school without a campus daycare center.

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