Illustration by Caitlin Degnon
By Darya Watnick///Editor-in-Chief
A group of parent,s now known as Lewis & Clark Kids and Families, is trying to gain the support of administrators to start a childcare on campus. The group, formerly known as Mom and Pop Tea Talk, is looking for campus-wide support for their initiative to bring a childcare center to the campus to serve both faculty and students.
Sarah Warren, Assistant Professor of Sociology, has been working on this project throughout the semester, although she said it is part of a larger process that involved individuals across all three campuses.
Warren noted that employee-sponsored childcare centers can be profitable if they are done correctly and that they are usually supported by those who don’t directly benefit as well.
“This kind of community benefits everyone—parents and non-parents, faculty, staff and students—as it facilitates more robust interactions, participation and connections. I see this as a critical issue in hiring and retaining faculty,” Warren wrote.
The group believes that having a child-care center on campus would help the short- and long-term sustainability of the school because it would signify support for gender equity and the dual responsibilities that many staff have as employees and parents, support that is already prevalent on the campuses.
Jessica Kleiss, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, thinks that a child-care facility would send a strong message to the entire LC community of the value that the College has for all employees and students as people with full lives.
“I think it would be a strong talking point when hiring new faculty, many of whom have young children and are trying to envision the elusive work/family balance in their possible new job. I think LC does a great job of supporting their students as whole people, through a wide variety of athletics, music, social groups and campus opportunities, ” Kleiss said. “Building a new childcare facility on campus continues to deepen the campus strength in this area.”
Kleiss has a nine-month old, Dustin, who currently attends a daycare near the Kleiss’ home. Kleiss said she would appreciate the added convenience that having a day care on campus would add.
“I would be able to see my baby during lunch breaks and have more time with him before, during and after my day of work,” Kleiss said.
Many of LC’s peer institutions already have childcare centers on their own campuses.
The main characteristic these programs share “is that they provide faculty, staff, students and community members with a high quality child care that allows parents to be physically close to their children,” Warren said.
According to Warren, Portland State University’s child-care center also doubles as a research center for faculty and students who work in early childhood issues. Faculty from both CAS and the Graduate School would benefit from this opportunity to also study children.
As of right now, there are no specific details on the center itself. With the support of the executive council, proposals and information could be solicited so the details can be worked out.
The group is aware that the budget is tight and they are prepared to address those concerns with multiple options for the funding of a child-care center. Many employers, not just schools, have childcare centers to support their employees because of the long term profits they provide.
“We think that this is a long overdue benefit that will bring the school up to the standards of other progressive, community-oriented institutions.” Warren said.