Child care needs are focus of feasibility study

Many Iowa State faculty, staff and students face child care challenges. So university human resources (UHR) and the ISU Research Park have launched a joint child care feasibility study to identify the demand for child care services on campus. Mills Consulting, Concord, Massachusetts, a child care consulting firm that regularly works with universities, is assisting with the study.

Workplace child care facilities often are key to attracting and retaining quality employees. Julie Nuter, associate vice president for UHR, said recent feedback from the University Committee on Women as well as the ISU Research Park expansion presented an opportunity to explore the university's child care needs.

"It was logical that the feasibility study be collaboratively accomplished between the university and the research park, given our shared interests," Nuter said. "It's my understanding that a needs assessment of this scope has not been accomplished in recent history, so it seemed like a good time to gather data to inform our decision-making."

Current services

Iowa State currently offers child care services for faculty, staff and students at University Child Care Center at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University Community Child Care in University Village, and the Child Development Laboratory School, managed by the College of Human Sciences. Total capacity for the three centers is 232. All are full with long waiting lists.

"Our child care centers are at capacity every year," said Julia Graden, UHR child care coordinator. "Increased student enrollments continue to place new demands on ISU's child care capacity, as does increased faculty and staff hiring."

Gathering information

The feasibility study consists of three parts: campus interviews, an email survey and a review of child care services. Earlier this week, consultants interviewed faculty, staff and student representatives from the University Committee on Women, the University Child Care Committee, Professional and Scientific Council, Faculty Senate and the Work/Life Committee. In addition, the consultants toured Iowa State's existing child care facilities.

The campus community will receive a short survey via email during the first week of December, giving faculty, staff and students an opportunity to comment on the university's current and future child care needs. It should take about 10 minutes to complete.

Analysis of the feasibility study will be finished by February and reported in March. Nuter said any plans for enhancing Iowa State's child care services would be thoroughly reviewed and prioritized before implementation.