Emporia State University (ESU) will close its Center for Early Childhood Education after the coming school year, which will make it the only state school in Kansas without on-campus childcare, WIBW reported.
“I think most folks, particularly parents of young children, can appreciate that one of the hardest things to do is do your work and go to your job and do all of the activities that those kids need to do while still doing a good job at work,” said Dr. Erika Martin, an assistant professor of biological sciences. “There are folks out there that can have someone stay at home with their child, and that’s wonderful. Most of us have one or more working parents, where having someone in the home just isn’t an option.”
Following the news in May, ESU students, faculty, staff, and alumni created a petition to keep the childcare center. As of Jul. 19, the petition had 345 signatures.
This closing – occurring August 2023 – is occurring amid a national childcare crisis. In Lyon County, there are between 21-30 children per opening at a childcare facility as of 2021, according to Child Care Aware of Kansas. And for over a decade, childcare centers across the U.S. have been closing, with the COVID-19 pandemic only worsening the issue, causing more closings due to staff shortages.
In June, the Jones Early Childhood Development Center, a new addition to the Emporia Public School District – built approximately two miles from ESU – had its grand opening.