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Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

We Get Letters: UCSC Loses Its Child Care

August 14, 2009

Chancellor George Blumenthal

Dear George:

I write to express my grave disappointment at the decision to cease the Early Education Services program offerings to faculty and staff, effective January 2010.

I make my points briefly here, and document them further in an attachment:

This action will make UCSC the only UC campus that does not offer child care for faculty and staff. Other campuses have evidently either developed better funding models or have chosen to make child care a higher priority. Which is it?

The availability of on-site child care has been documented to be of critical importance in recruiting, promoting, and retaining female faculty and staff, as well as faculty of color. Allowing the campus to slip backward on this point puts into question the campus’s stated commitment to diversity.

As incoming Chancellor, you repeatedly and publicly stated your commitment to child care as a crucial component of the creation of the more “family-friendly campus” you marked as a high priority.

In response to accumulating evidence that the failure to create a family-friendly environment was harming the UC’s core mission, former President Richard Atkinson made a statement in 2003 that “High quality, accessible and affordable child care is a critical priority that addresses the work and life needs of all members of the university community.” This official statement is still posted on multiple UC websites.
CP/EVC Dave Kliger’s message to the campus today indicated that this drastic measure was necessary because EES was among the “campus services that are not self-sustaining.” This is disingenuous: many things the campus does are not “self-sustaining” (UNEX and the Silicon Valley Center come to mind) but are funded because they are recognized as high priorities. The reference in this message to “two dozen” families affected by this decision plays down its ultimate impact by working from the smaller summer census and not counting those on the wait list.

Despite the willingness of faculty and staff parents to pay fee increases of 8-10% annually over the past several years—to the point where UCSC’s child care program is now among the most expensive programs in the local area—neither EES families nor the teaching staff were consulted in this decision.

While we all recognize the gravity of the budget situation, the outcome of this decision—to shutter the high-quality program currently in place at the Preschool Center at the Granary, and to cut off faculty and staff access to on-site child care entirely—ignores the developmental needs of these children for continuity of care. And it comes as yet another morale blow to their families.

Child care advocates on campus have, for years, suggested other long-term solutions to the financial problems at EES: moving it from Student Services to another support division; making child care a Development Office priority; or seeking an outside vendor to operate some or all of the programs, preferably with the same personnel (the Granary was operated by an outside vendor until 2000). The affected families and teachers deserve a detailed accounting of why none of these alternatives were deemed viable.

I hope you will revisit this decision, and publicly reassert your commitment to making UCSC a family-friendly campus—for everyone, but in particular for faculty and staff.


Kirsten Silva Gruesz
Professor of Literature

cc: CP/EVC Dave Kliger
Felicia McGinty, VC-Student Affairs

EES Director Emili Willet

Academic Senate Chair Lori Kletzer

CFW Chair Elizabeth Abrams

CAAD Chair Bettina Aptheker

CPB Chair Brent Haddad

CAP Chair Maureen Callanan


Kevin said...

Having had a child in the UCSC childcare system when it was run by an outside contractor, I can understand why UCSC took over the service---my child had longer tenure in the system than any of the staff, and much longer than any of the managers. (It was an excellent program despite the high turnover, though.)

It did come as a surprise to me that UCSC would shut down the childcare for faculty and staff with so little notice, though. This has, after all, been the number one issue for the Faculty Welfare Committee for at least the last 10 years.

Virgil said...
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