U Child Care Expands Services for Student Parents

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(Photo by Erin Burns)
Rory Penman
(Photo by Erin Burns)
(Photo by Erin Burns)

 

With snacks in the entryway and blue booties to cover visitors’ shoes, the ASUU Child Care Center hosted an open house to celebrate its new infant care room.

The new room began accepting kids on Monday, providing students access to part-time, on-campus infant care for children as young as six weeks for the first time. Through funding from the Eccles Foundation, last year’s senior class gift and a sustainability grant, the room finally began construction in October after two years of discussion. This is the only part-time infant care available in the Salt Lake area.

Shauna Lower, the director of the U’s Center for Child Care and Family Resources, said, “We had one mother who came in today … and she was able to get in and literally said this is the difference between me going to school or not.”

Madison Black, ASUU vice president and a member of the advisory board for the Child Care Center, said this is part of a broader goal of making the U more accessible for students. This includes the installation of lactation rooms throughout campus and providing more family-friendly bathrooms.

“We have a diverse group of students here, and we need to make sure we have a space for all of them where they can really thrive and make the most of their education,” Black said.

Luke Kelly, a Ph.D. student in the U’s History Department, and his wife have been taking their twin daughters to the center for three semesters and said they all appreciate the convenience of the facility on campus.

Most infant care centers require parents to sign up for full-time care, which normally means five days a week for at least eight hours per day. ASUU’s center requires students to register their infant for four to 20 hours per week and only requires them to pay for the time their child is actually there. This lowers the cost from about $1,000 per month elsewhere to an average cost of $1,000 per semester at the U.

There are also two hourly rates students can pay, with lower-income families being able to access an even lower rate. Kelly said this pricing is a “God-send,” and Lower agreed.

“It was really important if we were going to structure this for students that the cost needed to be in a price range that students could afford,” Lower said.

For those concerned that six weeks is too young for a child to be in group care, Lower said the decision to enroll an infant is a personal choice made by the parent in regards to their child’s safety and finishing their college education.

“A lot of times they have to wait until the child is older to take that class,” Lower said. “It may derail [parents] for years, if not forever, from completing their degree.”

The center also follows strict state guidelines for the care of infants and toddlers. Christina Wright, senior in human development and child studies and head of the infant care room, said due to the sustainability grants they received, the room is designed to conserve energy and keep the infants in a safe, clean environment.

The center, which can host eight infants at a time, currently has around 24 families registered, with a few spots left for this semester. Those who do not register in time will be placed on a waiting list.

“We haven’t really advertised for the space at all, and yet it’s nearly full,” Lower said. “So it isn’t that we needed to advertise, but we wanted everyone on campus to understand the benefits and be able to see the space.”

Information on using the ASUU Child Care Center’s services can be found at: asuuchildcare.utah.edu/

k.ehmann@chronicle.utah.edu

@Ehmannky

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