The lack of a day care center at Dixie State University has been a continuing conversation throughout campus over the past several years, and is once again being evaluated.
The strategic planning committee is discussing implementing a day care center as part of the five-year strategic plan for 2020-2025, said Michelle McDermott, associate professor of nursing and member of the strategic planning committee.
In fall 2019, faculty senate created a sub-committee in charge of evaluating the topic of day care and created a new proposal to submit to the strategic planning committee, which the committee submitted in December, said Samuel Tobler, president of faculty senate.
This desired outcome of a day care would fit under strategic plan goal two: strategic enrollment growth.
“As long as [a daycare system] is there as one of the strategies to accomplish this, then I’m satisfied,” Tobler said.
Tiffany Draper, director of new student and family programs, said she is one of the faculty members in charge of creating an outline of what’s needed to implement day care and how the university can pursue it.
“We decided that there really aren’t any drop-in day cares and that’s what our students are needing,” Draper said. “That is a place to start.”
The plan is to use the preschool as an after-hours drop-in center that allows students a place to drop their children off if they have evening classes, need time to study or take tests. Draper said a specific time frame has not yet been determined, but it would open once the preschool hours end and close around 9 p.m.
This would give the university a specific location to hold a day care, which is something the university’s administration has struggled to find in the past, Draper said. The location also already fulfills the regulations required to hold a day care.
“That was our foot in the door to get something started,” Draper said.
Draper said the ideal situation would be to have it running for fall 2020, but it is still up in the air. It all comes down to where the funding will come from and when the university will receive it.
“Time is of the essence,” Draper said. “This can really help students make progress.”
The downside to this plan is it’s not something catered toward faculty and staff, but they are welcome to use the drop-in center at night if needed.
The committee is still finding a way to meet the need of day care for faculty and staff.
The faculty members in charge of strategic plan goal five, which is geared toward improving faculty and staff life, are discussing ways to incorporate day care as a way to accomplish this goal.
“We’re trying to work [day care] in there so that somewhere in the strategic plan we could possibly gain funding to help support [day care for faculty],” Draper said.
The top priority is to re-submit a proposal for the Child Care Access Means Parents In School grant, which Draper said she submitted in 2017 while attempting to get a day care started.
The grant will help adult learners who have children to receive funding to put their children in day care, Draper said. The grant would allow day care to be free to students. It provides supplementary funding, so it would be a start to funding the day care.
The CCAMPIS grant would potentially cover the bare minimum the school would need, which is roughly $150,000, Draper said, which the group gathered in its research for the proposal.
The cost of running a day care would include paying staff, buying materials, marketing, running a website and platform, and more, Draper said. The number of staff and wages is the higher cost; just to have a full-time coordinator, it would cost the university over $90,000 per year and each part-time employee would likely be paid $15-17 per hour.
When Draper first submitted a proposal for the grant, it was rejected due to not having a specific location for the desired day care, she said. The difference this year is the university has a specific location in mind.
“I have hopes; it’s still in the works and it’s still part of discussion, but we at least have an idea that could potentially really work,” Draper said.
Draper said this is the fourth year in a row that some sort of faculty group has researched what it will take to get a day care started on campus.
“Each year, we get closer to a solution,” Draper said. “The more voices we have, the better.”
What has happened in the past
Dannelle Larsen-Rife, an associate professor of psychology, began work in 2013 to assess the need for child care on campus.
Larsen-Rife said she assembled a survey that about 200 students participated in. The results revealed around 35% of students have a child and a need for a day care, and 62% of students said they were somewhat or very likely to have a child within the next three years.
Larsen-Rife said she, along with other faculty members and students, created a proposal for the development of a drop-in day care center at the testing center.
The administration then told her the room in the testing center would not be a good fit because it wasn’t soundproof. After hitting that roadblock, it was dropped until 2017 when Draper researched more about it and submitted a proposal for the CCAMPIS grant.
Larsen-Rife said, “I hope whoever makes these decisions makes it a child-centered facility.”