Committee looking at on-campus daycare

The Early Childhood Development department uses a mock daycare facility as a lab in the Helland Center basement. (Photo: Sydney Foster/City College News)

By Gabe Hewitt/
Features Editor

A committee of students, faculty and administration have been researching the possibility of creating a daycare to be used by MCTC students.

Part of the push for an on-campus daycare came from the Student Senate, who had the matter on their yearly platform.

The committee has been meeting since January and are nearing the stage of sending a formal recommendation to college leadership.

Part of their research includes results of a D2L survey that 129 people took earlier this semester. Nearly 71 percent of the survey-takers stated that they had children and 50 percent have been unable to find child care that meets their needs. In the open ended portion of the survey, some students stated that have occasionally missed class because they haven’t been able to find child care.

Shayla Rutledge is one of the students on the committee and even though she knows she wouldn’t still be a student by the time any implementation could happen, she wants to do all she can to make sure it’s available for future students.

“Finding a daycare that’s affordable, close and convenient can be a struggle for parents,” she said.

The committee is looking at several spaces to be used for the child care facility and at the current stage, construction and operating costs can’t be determined until then.

The college does have a history of offering child care services to students. In fall 1976, Metropolitan Junior College at the time, established a care center in the basement of what’s now the Helland Center. It was operated and funded as a campus program with help of additional grants. It was initially operated by MCTC staff and eventually a third party would staff the facility. The college operated child care center until 2001. Dean Becky Nordin was part of a project that proposed creating another on-campus child care facility in 2006. The details of the proposal included an over $500,000 plan to construct it and would be open to MCTC students, faculty and outside community members. At that time, the college’s leadership didn’t accept the proposal.

“I’m a strong supporter of a daycare and think it would benefit the students but I’m also aware of the financial risks,” she said. “There’s not a profit in child care unless someone is paying full price.

Today, MCTC offers its students a number of grants to be used for child care opportunities off campus. Financial Aid Officer Shannon O’Brien oversees one of those grants, the Minnesota Postsecondary Child Care Grant. MCTC receives the largest grant of any college in the state from the program and is awarding nearly $500,000 this year to students. The award amounts are financially based and students can receive as low as $100 to a few thousand dollars each semester. According to O’Brien, the awards are meant to be supplemental and rarely cover the entire cost of child care.

“Adding a center to our campus would be relevant in a lot of ways and I think students would use it,” she said.

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