Loftin looks to private developers to replace campus child care

At this time, there is no plan in place to replace the Student Parent Center after its closure on June 30.

Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced a plan to issue a “request for proposals” from private developers with hopes of replacing the Student Parent Center, which is scheduled to close June 30.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said the private developer would run the new facility, with no contribution from MU other than providing the land.

Basi said a location for the new facility would not be determined until the proposal process begins.

At this time, it is unclear whether the current level of affordability will continue at the new facility.

“We would hope the operator would be able to provide MU students, faculty and staff with discounts based on the university’s land contribution,” Basi said. “I can’t speculate on any future fees at this time.”

Loftin’s announcement follows a recent report from a task force — consisting of Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs; Interim Provost Ken Dean; Gary Ward, interim vice chancellor for administrative services and Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton — that had been gathering feedback from around the MU community regarding the future of child care services on campus since March 13.

According to a 2013 statement from Family Friendly Campus Committee chairman Dale Fitch, the report stated that nearly 1,400 students have dependent children based on FAFSA applications.

The committee also surveyed 1,267 MU student and personnel — 29 percent of which were staff, 24 percent undergraduate students and 17 percent graduate students — and found that over half of the surveyed would need child care in the next two years.

Former Graduate and Professional Council President Jake Wright, the task force reported, said the inadequate or unaffordable child care on campus has led some graduate and professional students to leave MU.

“GPC believes that the lack of childcare on campus is, and ought to be, viewed as an issue of women’s right to higher education and that women should be afforded the necessary resources to pursue higher education including childcare,” Wright said in the report.

While the Child Development Lab remains an on-campus child care service, the report also found, the facility has a standing waiting list and is “one of the most expensive facilities in town.”

The report also stated that all other Southeastern Conference schools, except Auburn University, have some form of on-campus child care service.

However, the report stated, there is no definitive plan for MU to replace the Student Parent Center at this time due to financial constraints.

“It is highly unlike that we will be able to put everything in place to provide quality, affordable and convenient childcare by the beginning of the fall semester,” the report said.

Taking these factors into consideration, the task force concluded that providing an affordable child care service on campus would be desirable among graduate and professional students, faculty and staff, and recommended an evaluation of the feasibility of providing such service.

“I’m very grateful and appreciate of the task force members and all those in the MU community who took the time to talk with us about this issue during the past six weeks,” Loftin said in a news release. “A great deal of information was received, and I’m aware of the time and effort that was involved in this work.”

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