Child Development Center closure postponed as we pursue alternatives

Friday, February 23, 2018

President Kaler sent this message via email to the Twin Cities community this morning . . . 

I have heard your concerns about the proposed closing of the Child Development Center (CDC), the childcare center on the Twin Cities campus.  And so today, Provost Karen Hanson and I asked CEHD Dean Jean Quam to postpone the closing of the CDC until we have an alternative, or alternatives, in place to allow for a smooth transition for children and, potentially, for staff.

As you know, the decision to close the CDC emerged from planning that would enable the Institute for Child Development (ICD) to make the building improvements and other investments it needs to further its world-class research.

The CDC has a well-known reputation for excellence, yet it serves only a fraction of the University of Minnesota's families who need child care. It is not obvious how it can be scaled in any economical way to provide care to the hundreds of families and children on the waiting list.

The decision to eventually close the CDC will drive a productive process to develop high-quality childcare options for our community. I am committed to developing those options, and I believe this planning should include options for care of the children of students, as well as of faculty and staff.

I know this decision has caused stress to families. I apologize for that. I am committed to a consultative approach that will make use of the considerable skill set of the entire University community, including affected parents, and that will allow for a full exploration of all alternatives.

We will work with the Twin Cities campus community on next steps, with various perspectives informing our work and allowing us to explore many alternatives.

This exploration will include:

  • An assessment of our ability, either alone or with a public/private or nonprofit partnership, to scale the child care services to serve more families while retaining the high quality for which the CDC is known.
  • A cost model that will reduce and ultimately eliminate the University subsidy that is currently required. We are under pressure to prioritize our budget, and subsidies of all kinds are under scrutiny.
  • Recognition of the role that the CDC serves in allowing undergraduate students majoring in child development a convenient, easily accessible facility to complete their practicum requirements.

I want to be clear: This postponement is not permanent, yet it will be for as long as needed to develop alternatives. We will work to minimize any disruption to the timeline for planned renewal of the ICD facilities.
 
We must find ways to reduce subsidies while also serving our employees and their families. The two are not mutually exclusive, but they will require our best efforts to succeed.
 
Executive Vice President and Provost Hanson and Vice President for University Services Mike Berthelsen will be organizing the next steps. Thank you for your patience and for raising your concerns. Thank you as well to all who have expressed interest in being part of an advisory committee to help determine next steps. I look forward to all of us working together to find a solution to an important community need.