The administration and finance division announced Thursday that it plans to create a new child care facility for infants and toddlers.
A committee including administrative and finance, student affairs and academic affairs officials approved this proposal and is now seeking offers from child care providers for the new facility.
The facility will provide care for infants and toddlers, which the university does not currently provide, as well as children 3 to 5 years old.
While this university looks to find a spot to house the facility, which is slated to open by fall 2016, child care providers can start making offers, said Carlo Colella, administration and finance vice president.
“It’s a challenge to be able to access quality child care that is convenient to studies or employment,” said Charles Caramello, the graduate school dean. “Having that kind of service through the university or convenient to the university is something we’re trying to do to create a great environment for our faculty, our staff and our students.”
The current Center for Young Children can provide care for up to 110 children ages 3 to 5, but Colella said the new center will allow this university to accommodate more than 230 children, including infants, toddlers and children up to age 5. University students, staff, faculty and community members will be able to enroll their children.
Officials have been looking to provide this type of service for the university community for at least five years after organizations such as the Graduate Student Government and Graduate Assistant Advisory Committee voiced the need for it, Caramello said.
There is a need for this type of service, Caramello said, but it has taken a long time to process because of the size of this university.
Last year, this university surveyed the campus to explore the interest in available child care. A number of the 1,200 repondents indicated strong interest in high-quality child care services placed conveniently near this campus, Caramello said.
GSG President Deborah Hemingway said the child care facility is important to the campus community but expressed concern about the center’s affordability for graduate students.
Center for Young Children tuition costs for the full-time preschool and kindergarten programs total $11,500, while the part-time preschool programs cost $7,500.
Colella said the tuition for the new facility is unknown because the committee has not chosen a child care provider yet.
“Hopefully [the center] will be cost-competitive,” Colella said. “Graduate students, I know, are very price-sensitive, and providing child care services for infants and toddlers can be beyond the needs of graduate students. Perhaps there will be a way for those in financial need to apply for scholarships, but it’s really too early to know if that’s going to be possible.”
The fees incurred from child care tuition will go toward whichever child care provider this university chooses, he said.
“The university will not [monetarily] profit in any way from the child care,” he said. “It’s pretty challenging for us to even break even, so the tuition will cover the cost of the service.”
This will be a great addition to the university community, Colella said, adding that this is one of the university’s efforts to improve this university for its students, staff and faculty.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that this will bear fruit and add to the various things we’re doing to make this university and College Park even better as we go forward,” he said. “This is the sort of amenity or service that we hope will make being in College Park even better.”