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UNR Explores Plans to Expand Child Care

By Carla O'Day
UNR's Child and Family Research Center.
UNR's Child and Family Research Center.

UNR’s Child and Family Research Center. Photo: UNR

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.

UNR's Child and Family Research Center.

Children prepare food at UNR’s Child and Family Research Center. Photo: UNR

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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Eva Essa February 6, 2017 - 5:05 pm

Comments on ThisisReno’s 2/3/17 article, “UNR Explores Plans to Expand Child Care,” by Carla O’Day

Thank you for your article, which focuses on a long-standing issue at UNR. The demand of child care for the campus community has not kept up with the supply. For nearly half a century, the Child and Family Research Center (CFRC) has been UNR’s provider of care and education for young children of students, faculty, and staff.
For a number of years now, the CFRC has recognized the need for expansion and has requested required permission to raise funds for construction of a new, larger facility. Unfortunately, those requests were denied. Also over the years, a number of ad hoc committees were formed to examine campus child care. The most recent report, which led to the current renewed interest, was published two years ago. It concluded, “The committee’s primary recommendation is to expand the capacity of the existing Child and Family Research Center (CFRC),” acknowledging the CFRC’s proven record of excellence and its contributions to the mission of the University. This conclusion echoes those of earlier reports as well.
In December, UNR took steps to address the need for more campus child care by sending out a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), as described in your article. If a successful candidate is identified, such an entity would enter into a private-public partnership with the University. Clearly, this solution is not consistent with the ad hoc committee’s report.
As noted in your ThisIsReno article, I have initiated a movement to question the University’s decision to outsource child care. In line with the ad hoc committee’s report and the CFRC’s multiple requests, I believe that UNR should support and build on what already exists on campus. The University is willing to give land to a commercial child care provider. Why not provide this land to the CFRC for an expanded facility instead? The argument for maintaining the CFRC’s program rests on its proven high quality. A number of documented reasons attest to this quality:
• The CFRC was the first program in the state to achieve national accreditation, and has held this status continuously since 1988.
• More recently, Nevada instituted a rating system for child care programs in the state, awarding up to 5 stars, depending on a rigorous quality assessment. Only six programs in the entire state have been given a 5-star rating; three of those are CFRC facilities (each physical facility is assessed individually).
• As noted in the ThisIsReno article, the CFRC also operates an Early Head Start (EHS) program through a federal grant. This program was named an “Early Head Start Center of Excellence,” an honor given to only ten programs in the country.
• Finally, in response to the request on our website, the numerous comments sent by former and current parents, children, and students attest to a highly respected and beloved institution that has had a deep impact on many families and individuals.
So, my goal is to help UNR administrators reconsider their decision and to support the CFRC, a program of which they should be very proud, not replace.

Comments are closed.

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