University provides parents it employs with new community child-care optionsBy Julia Morse
The University and its Hospitals will award more than $400,000 in grant money to three South Side child-care providers as part of a first-time initiative to increase child-care options for employees, faculty and staff.
“This initiative provides a wonderful opportunity to solve an internal challenge, while at the same time providing resources for the community,” said Hank Webber, Vice President of Community and Government Affairs at the University. “This grant program will facilitate center expansion, create jobs and provide child-care opportunities that might otherwise not exist. It is a great win-win for the University and our neighbors.”
Centers for New Horizons, Baby Ph.D. and Chicago Child Care Society were selected from a group of seven applicants that submitted proposals of expansion this year, an effort to expand their capacity to serve infants and toddlers.
Centers for New Horizons will receive $110,000, Baby Ph.D. will receive $200,000, and Chicago Child Care Society will receive $113,197.
Seventy additional infant and toddler slots will be made available at the facilities: 12 at Centers for New Horizons, 12 at Chicago Child Care Society and 46 at Baby Ph.D.
The grant money also will fund a variety of items for each provider, including an expansion of playground equipment and enhancement of outdoor space at Centers for New Horizons; the renovation of a classroom and kitchen at Chicago Child Care Society; and the start-up costs for creating additional South Side day care homes at Baby Ph.D.
The initiative was fueled in part by a 2002 survey of employees, which revealed that while most University and Hospital employees were satisfied with South Side child care options for their 3- 5-year-olds, some felt that care options for their infants and young toddlers were too limited.
According to child-care providers, the reasons for these limitations is that care for younger children requires extra staffing and more customized space, making it difficult to afford the added expense of including those children in their programs.
Sarah Diwan, Owner and Director of Baby Ph.D. received an A.M. and Ph.D. from the University, both in social work, before becoming a leading South Side provider of child care.
During and after working on her Ph.D., Diwan was employed as a researcher in the Department of Psychiatry, a position she left in order to open her own day care home after experiencing a “lack of high-quality day care options for parents in the community,” she said.
“We have grown quickly over the past few years with the help of valuable input from parents in the University and local mid-South Side communities,” she said, noting that 75 to 80 percent of her clients are University and Hospital employees.
Deborah Hagman-Shannon, Associate Director of Chicago Child Care Society, said, “We are very, very excited Ð both for the opportunity to expand our business and to continue our wonderful relationship with the University and Hospitals.”
Hagman-Shannon said the grant money will fund the addition of a classroom, a music program, additional sessions with a storyteller and the hiring of a social worker.
“The funding is getting us started on the path of growth,” she said. “And we all hope this relationship with the University and its Hospitals will continue to develop.”
Joe Green, Director of External Affairs at Centers for New Horizons, said that it is a very exciting time for his company.
“We are delighted to work with the University and its Hospitals and are absolutely thrilled to continue exercising our commitment to serving this community,” Green said. “We will continue to strive to meet the needs of these children—and this grant will certainly allow us to further do so.”
Michael Tatelbame, Special Assistant to the Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer in Human Resources at the Hospitals, said, “We are thrilled with the providers chosen by the selection committee. These are high-quality, reputable providers that will soon be able to offer additional slots for children of our employees who are close to work.”
Centers for New Horizons is located in North Kenwood; Chicago Child Care Society is located in Hyde Park; and Baby Ph.D., now based in Hyde Park, will be adding home-based care centers in the Woodlawn, Kenwood and Bronzeville neighborhoods.
A committee composed of faculty and staff advised on the initiative’s development with guidance from the Illinois Facilities Fund, a nonprofit corporation that provides real estate financing, development and research for nonprofit organizations in Illinois.
The remaining money from the $1 million allocated by the University and its Hospitals is available for future child-care grants.
“This initiative is an important step in addressing the needs of today’s working parents and expanding services in our community,” said Don Randel, President Emeritus. “We are an institution with a history of innovation, and we look forward to successful collaboration with child-care providers who share our commitment to children, families and communities.”