Story by Courtney Scoby, Staff writer
A survey was sent out recently to faculty, staff and students with children to assess the interest in the opening of an on-campus daycare facility.
The President’s Task Force on Daycare, which was appointed by Interim President Tim Miller in late 2013, sent out the survey Sept. 22. The University Faculty and Staff Insurance and Benefits Committee made the recommendation that resulted in the task force.
Maeve McCarthy, chair of the President’s Task Force on Daycare, characterized the task force’s mission as follows: “We are charged with investigating the need for on-campus childcare and presenting options to the president.”
Last year, the task force presented a proposal to President Bob Davies under the leadership of former Chair, Jo Robertson, that recommended the creation of “an on-campus childcare facility run by MSU,” McCarthy said.
However, the task force was not entirely successful.
“There were a number of drawbacks to the proposal, including the need for MSU to subsidize the facility,” McCarthy said.
Although Davies said the creation of an on-campus daycare facility was not feasible at the time, he did recommend some other options.
“Dr. Davies asked us to look at options such as partnering with an existing daycare or outsourcing the project,” McCarthy said.
As the members of the task force take on the difficult duty of exploring other options to include in a new proposal for this semester, they felt the need to gauge campus interest through the survey.
“The goal of the survey was to give us an accurate picture of campus childcare needs,” McCarthy said.
Of the 603 survey respondents, 165 said that they would probably or definitely use on-campus childcare. Of the respondents, 127 said that they would use on-campus childcare full-time.
Of the 603 respondents, 100 were students. More than 60 percent of the 100 students said they had missed a class before because they could not find childcare.
“I feel that this indicates a significant campus need,” McCarthy said.
Robyn Pizzo, senior education abroad adviser, responded positively to the idea of on-campus daycare.
“As an employee with an infant, I am obviously in favor of high quality on-campus daycare,” she said. “Many others I have spoken with are in favor of it as well.”
However, she said some people were upset that the survey was not sent out to the entire university community.
“Some people I spoke with were disappointed that they were not able to voice their support even if they don’t currently have children aged 0-5,” she said.
Brittany Prather, senior from Mayfield, Kentucky, and mother to a 4-year-old and a 22-month-old, remains a bit skeptical, however.
“I’m very picky and prefer to have someone I know watch them or someone the kids are familiar with,” she said. “I’m not really a fan of daycares, but if the curriculum and price was conducive it would be something I would be interested in.”
Prather’s son is in preschool, and she expressed concern about an on-campus daycare’s ability to provide a good replacement.
“If the daycare offered something in line with his educational needs, I would be willing to try something new,” she said. “I would have a ton of questions though in regards to food, discipline, caregivers, types of activities, etc.”
McCarthy remains hopeful that the university can provide a viable daycare option.
“There is a shortage of daycare options in Murray, and I am hopeful that MSU can help with that,” she said. “This could be of great benefit to employees and students and could be a great recruitment tool.”