The University Record, January 8, 2001

Grant program makes University child care more affordable

By Britt Halvorson

Clara Keane (left) and Olga Kim playing under a makeshift tent at the U-M Children’s Center for Working Families. Photos by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services
Child care is more affordable for almost one-quarter of U-M families with children at the University’s child care centers, thanks to a $100,000 pilot grant from the Office of the Provost.

Nearly 70 families have received child care tuition grants through the program, which began Sept. 1. Faculty, staff and students with children enrolled at the Family Housing Child Development Center, the Pound House Children’s Center, the U-M Children’s Center and the U-M Children’s Center for Working Families are eligible to apply for a child care tuition grant. Eligibility for the program reflects the Housing and Urban Development guidelines for Washtenaw County, which look at family income and size. Grant amounts have ranged from 20 percent to 40 percent of tuition.

“It is my hope that this program will enable University families to enroll their children at one of these four excellent University child care programs that would otherwise be out of their financial reach,” said Provost Nancy Cantor in a July letter to parents of enrolled children.

Nate Barnett (foreground) with Jack McGuinness at the U-M Children’s Center for Working Families
According to Karey Leach, director of the U-M Children’s Centers and the tuition child care grant program coordinator, the tuition grant has helped families, children and teachers at the Centers. “The tuition grant has enhanced families’ abilities to purchase or increase their child care,” Leach says. “Families are delighted.”

Priti Mithas and her husband Sunil, a graduate student in the School of Business Administration, received a tuition grant last semester for their child’s care at the Child Development Center. “My husband is a student here, so the grant has really helped us,” Priti Mithas notes. The grant has cut their child care costs by almost one-half.

Lingjie Xu’s husband also is a Ph.D. student at the University. The financial support he receives through his graduate program is not enough to meet the cost of child care for the couple’s daughter. The tuition grant has eased some of the financial burden of child care. “This is a big help; it’s very important to us,” Xu says.

The Xu’s 4-year-old daughter, according to Lingjie Xu, is developing her drawing skills, socializing with other children and learning English at the day care center. “We’re happy about all these things,” Xu says. “I will recommend this program to other parents.”

Deniz Gulari in the U-M Children’s Center for Working Families’ exercise room. Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services
The provost’s pilot grant stems from the work of the Child Care Task Force, chaired by Ada Sue

Hinshaw, dean of the School of Nursing, and charged by the provost and the vice president for student affairs with assessing the demand for child care, recommending an approach, and addressing needs and concerns about affordability and accessibility.

“There has been an incredible outpouring of support from the provost on behalf of families at the

U-M,” Leach says.

In September, Cantor received the Work-Life-Family Award from the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, recognizing her work to enact family-friendly policies at the U-M.

In addition to the child care tuition grant program, these include an increase in sick time allowed to be used for child or family care, and the Kids Kare at Home program, which provides in-home caregivers for sick children or adults while the primary caregiver goes to work. These benefits are available to all eligible faculty, staff and students. Both the Center for the Education of Women and the Family Care Resources Program have worked with the Office of the Provost to develop these programs.

The provost “has provided an unbelievable amount of support on behalf of young children and their families,” Leach notes. “Everyone’s feeling it—teachers, children and parents.”

The child care tuition grant program is a success, according to Leach, because it considers need and assists families directly while providing children access to quality early childhood programs. The four U-M child care programs are accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs.

Interested families may pick up an application from one of the four child care centers. Applications are reviewed continually, must be resubmitted each term, and must include documentation of family income and size. Written notification of a center’s decision will be provided to each family.

For more information, visit the Children’s Centers Web site, www.childrenscenters.umich.edu, or the Family Housing and Pound House child care centers site, www.housing.umich.edu/family/index.html.