Washington University in St. Louis will open a child-care facility on North Campus by the fall 2010 semester, announced Henry S. Webber, executive vice chancellor for administration.
The new child-care center will offer care for 150-175 children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 6 years.
The facility will be open to the children of faculty, staff and students, said Webber, chair of WUSTL’s Child Care Committee, which was formed by the university in 2007 to make recommendations about how to improve child-care options for WUSTL families.
“This is an essential investment for the university to remain competitive among its peer institutions, most of which — if not all — already offer the use of such a facility to their faculty, staff and students,” Webber said.
“The accessibility of high-quality child-care options close to where parents work is a high priority for many faculty, staff and students, and it’s a vital component of an academic community that allows its members to achieve fulfilling work and home lives,” Webber said.
University employees currently have access to child-care facilities at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and the University City Children’s Center (UCCC), and the university operates the Washington University Nursery School on the Danforth Campus. Still, Webber said, the demand for child care exceeds the supply. For example, there is a long waiting list for spots at the UCCC.
With the continued support of the UCCC and nursery school and addition of a child-care facility on North Campus, the WUSTL administration hopes to make child care more accessible to WUSTL employees and students.
“The university’s relationship with the UCCC and the Washington University Nursery School, both exceptional care providers, will continue even after the opening of the new center,” Webber said. “Our goal is to provide an array of high-quality child-care options for university families. Families will be able to choose a program that best suits both the child’s and parents’ needs.”
WUSTL will build a new structure for the child-care facility on North Campus, which will be accessible from the Danforth, West and Medical campuses by car and by MetroLink.
The university will finance the construction of the center and subsidize the center’s utilities and major maintenance, but its day-to-day operations will be fully funded by users. Rates have not yet been set.
An outside vendor, Bright Horizons Family Solutions, which manages more than 600 child-care centers for universities, corporations, hospitals and government agencies, will operate the center. The WUSTL Child Care Committee chose Bright Horizons after researching many possible vendors.
“Bright Horizons excelled in a wide range of characteristics that we knew would be important in a university-affiliated child care center: their curriculum, their team-oriented management style and the wonderful environments that they have created at institutions comparable to Washington University,” said Tamara Hershey, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and one of three Child Care Committee members to visit sites of prospective vendors.
“Having a high-quality, university-affiliated child-care center close to campus is essential for supporting university families with young children, minimizing child-care-related stress for parents, and allowing children to flourish,” Hershey said.
Other Child Care Committee members visiting prospective vendors were Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering, and Angela Sharkey, M.D., professor of pediatrics.
Other members of the Child Care Committee are Rowhea Elmesky, Ph.D., assistant professor of education in Arts & Sciences; Barbara Feiner, vice chancellor for finance and CFO; Michelle Gravel, director of the Alumni and Parents Admission Program and assistant director of admissions; Steven Hoffner, assistant vice chancellor for operations; Alan Kuebler, assistant vice chancellor for resource management; Stephen Legomsky, J.D., D.Phil., the John S. Lehmann University Professor; Ann Prenatt, vice chancellor for human resources; and Rob Wild, assistant to the chancellor.
For more information on Bright Horizons, visit brighthorizons.com.