SF State springs for employees' offspring
October 11, 2007 12:00 PM
Thirty-five years after SF State’s student government began providing childcare for students, staff and faculty members are about to get their own on-site daycare center.
“I wonder why we haven’t had this all of these years,” said Theresa Dzikunu, office coordinator in the Political Science Department. “I have two kids, and I had a lot of issues putting them in a good child care situation. That affected my job.”
Children’s Campus is slated to open in January 2009 and will provide daycare year-round to approximately 85 children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years, according to Janet Egiziano, Associate Director of Marian Wright Edelman Institute. The Institute “serves as a powerful tool of outreach, advocacy and research,” and offers an interdisciplinary degree in child adolescent development on campus, according to its Web site.
“We’re recruiting younger faculty, and we know that there is going to be growing demand for [child care],” Egiziano said.
Children’s Campus is projected to be a self-sustaining program, charging monthly rates between $510 and $1,581, depending on the age of the child and the number of days per week the child will come in, according to its Web site. Families with a yearly income of $50,000 or less will be charged on a sliding scale.
Courtney Cheng, a staff member in Fiscal Affairs, said she will not send her infant to Children’s Campus because she can find childcare at a much lower cost elsewhere. Cheng sends her child to a home care provider and pays $500 to $600 a month.
“I saw the price and hesitated,” Cheng said. “I did research and I wanted my kids to be here where I work, where it’s more convenient, but the school doesn’t pay us enough.”
Children’s Campus will be located in a temporary building for four to five years on the Lakeview Center site, which will be eventually torn down, Egiziano said.
The Lakeview Center formerly housed the Child Study Center, a child development lab that is part of a graduate psychology program. The Child Study Center provided opportunities for internships, observation, and student research for the kinesiology, teaching, and child development departments as well, said Dr. Thomas Spencer, developmental psychology professor. Approximately 800 students used the Child Study Center annually before it closed after 37 years in June 2007, he said.
“[The university sees] it as providing cheap childcare for community children,” said Spencer, founder of the Child Study Center. “The important thing was not to think of it just as a preschool. It was university lab for university students.”
The Child Study Center closed because the operation was not entirely self-sustaining, Spencer said.
However Children’s Campus has plans to address the need for student research, according to Egiziano.
“The new center will provide that once again for faculty and students – a center for teaching the best practices, observation, and for research,” Egiziano said.
The Associated Students Inc. Early Childhood Education Center is accommodating some student researchers, but the building lacks adequate observational rooms with two-way mirrors, Spencer said.
“We don’t have the capacity to take on all of those students because they come directly into the center,” said ECEC Director Sarah Johnson. “We’ve taken some of the students, but it’s not nearly as sufficient of people using the Child Study Center.”
While the ECEC provides daycare services, student parents receive priority and only 25 percent of the slots are for staff and faculty, Johnson said.
“The [ECEC] is primarily for students, and if there were any openings there, faculty are eligible but the waiting list is very long.”
The ECEC has no plans to cut services to staff and faculty after Children’s Campus opens in 2009, Johnson said.
Dzikunu, a full-time staff member, was put on ECEC’s waitlist for a year before her son and daughter were accepted into the center. Though her daughter no longer attends the ECEC, Dzikunu said she considering transferring her 3-year-old son to Children’s Campus because it could provide care five days a week.
“All the faculty and staff get child care two or three days of the week at the [ECEC] – you don’t get all five days,” Dzikunu said. “It’s a big inconvenience because if you are working fulltime, you have to arrange for another source of child care. It’s not very good for [the child’s] health in terms of development.”
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