29 spots available in campus day care centers

Photo: The Early Childhood Education Program, which includes Haste Street Child Development Center, announced available spots for the first time in years after traditionally having lengthy waitlists.
Kevin Foote/Staff
The Early Childhood Education Program, which includes Haste Street Child Development Center, announced available spots for the first time in years after traditionally having lengthy waitlists.

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Through an email to the UC Berkeley division of the Academic Senate, Interim Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Faculty Welfare Angelica Stacy announced April 6 that the Early Childhood Education Program has 29 spots remaining for the fall session of 2011 - the first such announcement after years of boasting of a waitlist exceeding the number of children the program could enroll.

While openings for infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children depend on the available capacity at each of the program's seven day care centers, the 29 open seats are prioritized for the children of faculty.

The announcement came after the program split the responsibility of recruiting campus students, staff and faculty for day care enrollment in March.

Program responsibilities were split primarily due to administrative layoffs within the program, said Bob Flaherty, chief financial officer of the campus Residential and Student Services Programs. He added that by splitting responsibilities, this also kept the program's budget balanced despite a reduced staff.

According to Laura Keeley-Saldana, the program's director, the office handles student and staff recruitment, while the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Faculty Welfare handles faculty enrollment.

The program has faced financially difficult times from dwindling state support, particularly in the last year when the state had its longest delay in passing a budget to date.

The drastic cutback in state support resulted in a need to decrease the amount of services provided throughout the year. Just in the past few years, the program has accrued a $300,000 deficit and has had to increasingly rely on enrollment fees to support their facilities.

In addition to the growing decrease in state funding, the program is also required to continue to pay the campus for utility use at each facility.

As a result of the increasing financial strain on the program, officials stated earlier this semester that they will not be offering child care services over the summer and the program has begun to increase fundraising efforts in order to maintain services.

The program, which serves roughly 250 children of campus students, staff and faculty, usually has a waitlist for the 80 seats allocated to children of faculty, Flaherty said.

"The delay in enrollment came as a hand-off issue - we open contracts for new parents in March," Flaherty said. "But when administrative responsibilities changed this year, enrollment began late."

However, in addition to increasing fee payments by 6 percent for the fall, the program will receive a 10 percent decrease in funding from the state, which will reduce the amount of subsidies the program can offer to student parents, Flaherty added. He said the number of student parents that enroll might also go down.

According to Keeley-Saldana, if the 29 seats are not filled by faculty by mid-August, they will be opened up to staff and then students.

"We have to fill all the seats in order to maximize efficiency," Flaherty said. "If they are not filled, we will have to reshuffle children between sites by age, and may have to close a classroom at a site."


Contact Amruta Trivedi at [email protected]

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