By Carla O’Day
Seeking to keep pace with its need for additional family services for staff and students, University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) plans to replace and increase its child care offerings with the help of a private provider.
UNR’s Child & Family Research Center (CFRC) collectively has 101 slots for child care in the William J. Raggio and Sarah H. Fleischmann buildings but has more than 200 children on waiting lists, mostly infants and toddlers. Under an agreement with the Washoe County School District, 18 spots are reserved for 3- and 4-year-olds with special needs.
Plans call for expanding services to between 200 and 250 children from infancy to 6 years and to move child care facilities out of existing locations.
Pursuing a public-private partnership arrangement may consist of off-campus facilities near UNR, building and operating a facility on campus, or consulting with the university to build such a facility and eventually enter into a management contract.
UNR is asking that existing center staff be given preference for employment, according to a request for qualifications posted recently to potential bidders that’s due Feb. 9. There are currently 10 full-time staff members at the center, three school district employees, and numerous part-time paid student staff members. Also, children of existing university staff and students would be given enrollment preferences over the general public.
The new facility would serve as a practicum site for UNR’s early childhood education majors and for students studying human development.
This news isn’t sitting well with some. An online site, “Save the CFRC,” is asking people to sign a petition against the plan and asking them to share their memories of the facility.
“If you agree that the CFRC rather than a commercial child care chain should continue to provide high quality care and education for UNR’s youngest students, I would appreciate your support,” wrote retired professor Eva Essa, who directed the center from 1971 to 1987. “I have a very strong commitment to this program, and will do what I can to voice my opposition to this initiative that UNR administrators want to force on us.”
This project excludes the separately-operated Early Head Start program, which serves a total of 104 children at four sites, including the university’s Nelson Building downtown that was recently sold to a Reno developer. The 32 children attending classes at the Nelson Building will be relocated this summer or early fall to a site yet to be named.
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Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.