The University Record, May 6, 1998

U to strengthen child care programs

By Jane R. Elgass

Continuation of the Student Child Care Subsidy Program Scholarship and the Kids Kare at Home Program, and subsidies for the University's five child care programs that will enable them to serve children of lower income faculty and staff are among the recommendations of the Child Care Task Force that will be adopted by the University.

In advising the Regents of the recommendations at their April meeting, Provost Nancy Cantor noted that these actions will enhance the University's efforts to continue to be a "family friendly," flexible employer of those with children.

The University's annual subsidy of the student child care program will be doubled, to $150,000. This will be combined with $75,000 in student fees designated for this program. Awards are made on the basis of financial need, ranging from $500 to $1,250, with an average of $800 per term. While the program does not provide total support for child care costs, "it has had a positive impact on those who have used it," Cantor noted.

Sick child care is a concern of all parents--faculty, staff and students--and its high cost is of particular concern to lower income members of the University community.

Kids Kare at Home Program, which has operated on a pilot basis since January, will continue and a sliding fee scale with a subsidy for lower income faculty and staff families on the Ann Arbor campus will be implemented. In addition, a one-year pilot of this program, to assess need and feasibility, will be offered to students.

A sliding scale subsidy program will be initiated at the University's five child care centers to help offset the high cost of care and to make the services available to low income faculty and staff.

Cantor also noted that the task force found availability of data on children of faculty, staff and students "in short supply if not non-existent." As a result, the University will investigate ways in which to collect this data, possibly through the M-Pathways project.

Cantor told the Regents that while the long-term recommendations of the task force also have support, implementation will be a bit more difficult.

The possibility of securing outside funding to provide space at the North Campus center for infant/toddler care will be reviewed with incoming Vice President for Development, Susan K. Feagin.

Also to be addressed will be the possibility of offering off-hours child care, for which there is heavy demand, and a change in policy that would allow more flexible use of sick time for sick child care.

This policy change, currently under review along with other changes in sick leave policy, would be implemented in July 1999.

Cantor will encourage the deans to consider part-time degree programs. There also will be a renewed effort to inform faculty and staff about existing policies that allow flexible scheduling, including job-splitting and job-sharing, and part-time return to work following the birth of a child.