Committee considers ways to expand child care options

Faculty, staff and students with children on the Clifton Child Care Center waiting list may not have to wait as long as they think for on-campus child care. The effort to build an additional campus facility took a giant leap forward April 3 with the first meeting of the Child Care Committee.

Committee Chair Frances Lucas-Tauchar, vice president and dean for Campus Life, opened the inaugural meeting by explaining the committee's charge. "It's been widely known for a long time that we need more child care options in the Emory area," She said. "This committee will make that a reality."

Lucas-Tauchar said the committee's purpose is to formulate a plan for building a child care center for the three Emory constituencies: the University, hospitals and Emory Clinic. She said limiting the center to children of Emory employees and students is feasible given the demand in the community.

In addition to Emory employees, the existing Clifton Child Care Center serves Egleston Children's Hospital and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The center serves 188 children ranging in age from infancy to 5 years. Weekly fees are $134 for infants, $127 for toddlers and $116 for pre-schoolers. Child-to-staff ratios are four to one for infants, five to one for one-year-olds, six to one for two-year-olds, seven to one for three-year-olds, and nine to one for four- and five-year-olds. Reduced rates are available for lower-income Emory employees, a service that also will be available in the new facility.

"The University has made the decision to build an additional child care center somewhere on Emory land with the same level of quality we have at the Clifton Child Care Center," Lucas-Tauchar said. "I believe the new center will fill up quickly because of the waiting list at Clifton, and the people who probably have not applied to Clifton because of the waiting list, but want child care on campus." Although Emory employees will have the highest priority for admission, Lucas-Tauchar also said any vacancies could be offered to employees of other Clifton Corridor institutions.

Committee member Alice Miller, associate vice president for Human Resources, said the University considered contracting out the additional child care services to a vendor, but ultimately decided against that option in favor of a facility built and operated by Emory. Miller said no commercial child care provider could match Clifton's low child-to-student ratios or the quality of Clifton's facility.

The committee has a budget of $2 million to work with, Lucas-Tauchar said, which includes the purchase of a site. She said the most likely site for the new facility is the University Apartments area on Clairmont Road. "I would love for us to be able to do the design over the summer and early fall, and then invite bids," she said.

--Dan Treadaway

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