November 20, 2007

Cornell Child Care Center to Open Next Fall

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Cornell plans to open a new child care center for the children of faculty, staff and students at Cornell in August 2008. The 16,240 square foot facility is to be built on North Campus, near the A-Lot and will have room for 48 infants, 50 toddlers and 60 preschool age children.
The University’s primary reason for funding and building the new center comes from a growing need for child care services in the community, according to Mary Opperman, vice president of human resources.
“In addition, regulations in New York State have made it difficult for family care providers to remain in business, and this has created a particular need for infant and toddler care,” Opperman said.
A myriad of Cornell faculty and staff have contributed to organizing and establishing the new center, along with child care experts throughout the community. A recently established University Assembly committee, which consists of Cornell faculty, staff, and students and is headed by Prof. Abe Stroock, chemical and biomolecular engineering, is working in collaboration with the Division of Human Resources on the operational issues for the center, such as operating hours and the enrollment process.
Because of limited space, there will be an application process that the University Assembly and the Division of Human Resources are currently organizing, and the center will only be open to the members of the Cornell community, including faculty, staff and students.
The child care center will have structured programming accustomed for the various age groups within the 158 total children who will be enrolled in the center.
According to Lynette Chappell-Williams, director of the Office of Workforce Diversity, Equity and Life Quality at Cornell, “The goal is for the center’s operation and programming to meet National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation requirements.”
The University is working with Bright Horizons, a worldwide leader of providing employer-sponsored child care, to institute the age-appropriate programming and care aspects.
The University will also be providing significant funding for the construction of the center and its annual expenses. Students, staff and faculty, however, “will have access to need-based grant funds that can be used to defray the cost of tuition,” Opperman said.
Since 2004, the University has had a child grant subsidy program for students to assist with covering the costs of child care, according to Chappell-Williams. It is expected that this program will assist students with covering the costs of care at the center as well as with other child care providers.
“There is a multitude of decisions that need to be made in order to make a child-care center a reality- where to put it, what it should look like, how big it should be,” Opperman said.
“We have tried to balance the many, and often competing priorities of our faculty, staff and students to create a high quality center that will be available to all,” she said.
Some challenges the University faces in opening this center include hiring excellent teachers, while at the same time being able to keep tuition costs affordable for all members of the Cornell community.
While there are many factors involved in established the new child care center, Cornell has made good headway so far.
“This new center is an excellent move for the university,” said Chappell-Williams. “Other Ivy League institutions have already established near or on-site child care centers, or are in the process of doing so. As a result, our center will keep us competitive with other institutions. This is critical as we strive to recruit faculty, staff, and students.”