University of Chicago Launches $1 Million Childcare Initiative
The University of Chicago and its Hospitals have launched a $1 million childcare initiative in Hyde Park and the surrounding communities that will enable licensed care providers to create or expand their capacity for infants and toddlers.
The University estimated that the grant money will create openings for an additional 40 children, two years of age or younger, of students, faculty and staff.
The grant money will be allocated this spring among established licensed home-based centers and facilities in Hyde Park, Grant Boulevard, Kenwood, Oakland, South Shore, Washington Park and Woodlawn.
“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 childcare opportunities that might otherwise not exist. It is a great win-win for the University and our neighbors.”
The Illinois Facilities Fund, a non-profit expert in the childcare arena, is consulting on this initiative and managing the grant application process.
“The IFF is pleased to work together with the University of Chicago and its Hospitals on this important initiative,” said Gabriella DiFilippo, vice president of real estate services at the Illinois Facilities Fund.
Request for proposals were distributed last month. In April, a selection committee, composed of University faculty and staff, Hospital staff, Illinois Facilities Fund representatives and early childhood education professionals, will decide on the first group of providers to receive grant money.
Over the years, faculty and staff have requested childcare assistance of the University and Hospitals, primarily for infants and young toddlers.
Through a 2002 study by the survey lab, the university determined that most employees and students were satisfied with out-of-home care for 3- to 5-year olds, but not for infants and young toddlers.
“Because out-of-home care for infants and young toddlers requires extra staffing and specialized space, many childcare providers cannot afford to include infants and toddlers in their programs,” Webber said. “The demand is there, but there are financial and facility constraints for providers that make serving this population a challenge.”
Michael Tatelbame, special assistant to the vice president & chief human resources officer in human resources at the Hospitals, said he hopes the initiative will meet and exceed the needs of employees and students so that they can focus on work and not have to be concerned about childcare.
“We want to help alleviate their stress any way we can,” Tatelbame said.
Ingrid Gould, assistant vice president and associate provost in the Office of the President, noted that everyone involved is excited and hopeful.
“This has never been done before. We have asked ourselves, our colleagues and outside experts lots of questions in an effort to design something terrific,” Gould said.
Despite the unknowns that go along with doing something that has never been done before, Gould said she hopes for the kind of success that will lead to growth of the program in years to come.
“This is an ambitious proposal,” she said. “We are an institution with a history of innovation.”
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