Joint assembly discusses issue of child care

An overwhelming opinion emerged from students, faculty and staff at Thursday’s joint assembly meeting: TCU needs some system of child care.The assembly, sponsored by the Student Relations Committee of the Faculty Senate, was designed solely to gather campus opinion on on-campus child care, said Cara Jacocks, Faculty Senate member.

“This meeting isn’t intended to start putting together child care but to gather information about the need for it,” Jacocks said.

Jacocks, a member of the Student Relations Committee, presented the benefits of child care options and possible models used at other universities.

Following her presentation, attendees formed small discussion groups to brainstorm options. Suggested models included a financial support system for parents using outside childcare and creating an on-campus facility operated by TCU.

“In the past year, more and more faculty have voiced the need for childcare,” said Keith Whitworth, Faculty Senate secretary. “With this, we hope to generate ideas and find one common voice among faculty, staff and students.”

In 2002, 38 percent of TCU faculty, staff and students had children of child care age, and 31.1 percent had an outside childcare system, according to a survey by a TCU research task force.

Psychology graduate student Amanda Morin said she has to juggle her 9-week-old daughter between a local church program, her office and having her father drive from Waco once a week to baby-sit.

She said she has had to miss class on at least one occasion because she couldn’t secure child care.

“An on-campus child care facility would really be better for me,” Morin said.

In addition to being a convenience for those with children, the presentation also stressed the benefits to the TCU community as a whole.

An on-campus facility could benefit education, health and science students for research and study, said David Bedford, chair of the Faculty Senate Student Relations Committee. He said it would also be useful for recruiting and retaining both faculty and students.

According to a National Child Care Information Center survey, on-site child care reduces worker turnover, decreases absenteeism and improves overall productivity.

“I personally think that having child care available will help TCU to recruit top-notch faculty,” Bedford said.

The Student Relations Committee will use the information and opinions from the meeting to prepare a report for the March 1 Faculty Senate meeting. Faculty Senate Chairwoman Suzy Lockwood said it will still be a long time before anything becomes official.

“The main thing is that we got the conversation going, and it’s important to keep it going,” Lockwood said. “I hope it develops into something because we need it.