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Childcare at the University of Arizona: Investing in the Future

By Joannah Hinz and Jill Bechtold

Joannah Hinz is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona. She received her S.B. in
physics from MIT in 1995 and her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Arizona in 2003.
Jill Bechtold is Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona.

Joannah Hinz

January 2005

In July 1989 the Arizona Board of Regents created the Commission on the Status of Women for the purpose of
assessing the conditions of employment for women at the three universities in the
U of AZ system. Members are drawn from the ranks of administrators, faculty,
appointed personnel, and classified staff to serve 3-year terms as Commissioners.
Graduate and undergraduate students serve renewable one-year terms. Several
subcommittees serve within the larger Commission to address specific needs of
the university community. The Childcare Workgroup has devoted itself to goals regarding the
environment for family and children on campus.

In 2003, the Childcare Workgroup researched, wrote, submitted, and presented a series of
recommendations to the University administration in the form of a ‘white paper’ entitled “Childcare:
Investing in the Future”. These recommendations proposed a series of family-friendly policies and
practices that could be adopted by the administration in support of diverse needs of the community. The
recommendations were received positively.

As a follow-up to this white paper plan, in March of 2004, the Childcare Workgroup submitted a proposal
to the President to recommend the installation of diaper changing tables in men’s and women’s restrooms
in ten buildings on campus of the 116 buildings that did not have those facilities. They suggested this
action as a first sign from the administration of their interest and investment in child-friendly resources
for a minimal cost. The funding for these tables was approved, and, in September and October of this
year, the changing tables were installed.

In cooperation with the Commuter Student Affairs Office, the Childcare Workgroup also proposed
this fall for funds to build a child-friendly play area in the University’s new Student Union. This area,
housed by the Commuter Student Affairs, is designed as an enclosed space equipped with child-sized
tables, chairs, and bookshelves, and stocked with books and toys, where parents can take their children to relax and play while visiting campus. Though solely parent-supervised, the proximity to several computers, along with safe room dividers, will allow parents to monitor their children while doing simple tasks such as briefly checking email or printing assignments. To date, the Vice President of Campus Life, the Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students, the Commuter Students Affairs Office, and the Director of the Student Union have all pledged funds for this area. Major items of furniture have been ordered, and donations of books and toys from local bookstores and members of the Commission on the Status of Women have been solicited. The goal is to have the area opened by the week of final exams.

Future efforts by the Childcare Workgroup include establishing a “baby room” on-campus
daycare center. This facility would be designed for ages six weeks to one year, when parents would most
wish to have their child nearby for breastfeeding and other short visits during the work day. The age
restriction would also bring demand for the facility to manageable levels for a first-time facility. The
Workgroup is researching possible outside vendors, costs, liabilities, and state guidelines in opening this
type of daycare, but have received much positive feedback from the University administration.

We hope the white paper and the steps outlined above might be of use to other institutions looking to
improve the childcare resources available to them and would be glad to receive feedback from other
committees addressing these issues.

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