Institute surveys childcare assistance needs

The graduate living center is home to many of the recipients of this program’s childcare benefits. // Photo by Joe Johnson, Student Publications

In an effort to improve child care on campus for Tech community members, the Institute has released a survey to gauge the need for increased tuition assistance for its two childcare facilities.

Tech oversees two childcare centers on its campus that are aimed at providing faculty, staff and students with high quality and convenient programs for their children. Both centers are outsourced and run by Bright Horizons Family Solutions, with one located within the graduate housing unit and another in the Home Park area. “It is priced competitively for the area that we’re in,” said Carolina Amero, Senior Director of Auxiliary Services at Tech, about the current tuition rate at the centers. “Anybody in the campus community, whether they’re an employee or student, gets a 10% discount,” Amero said.

Tech discounts the centers for its community members and encourages them to utilize the childcare centers, but this can still be a considerable expense for parents. 

“With the infant [and toddler] classrooms, being up in the [$1800-1900] range per month, that’s a lot,” Amero said. She stated that COVID-19 has also put stress on the centers as they closed at the beginning of the pandemic and struggle to reopen with decreased attendance as some parents continue to work from home. 

Faced with a national teacher shortage as well, only one of the childcare centers is fully open right now. Amero says this should improve soon, but it also speaks to the quality of the programs:

“Both [centers] have the highest accreditation,” she said, “so they’re very particular about who they hire.” With the childcare centers gradually reopening, Amero said her department wanted to reevaluate the help Tech gives to its community members for childcare, which started with a proposal to campus administration.

“We went to leadership and said ‘If we could have X number of dollars we could provide a more deeply discounted number of spots at, hopefully, both centers to make it possible for families with limited means to be able to use the centers that can’t right now,’” Amero said. They received great feedback from the proposal and her department then sought to assess the existing demand to make their final proposal. Amero put together a short survey to gauge the tuition assistance need on campus, and the questionnaire has spread through multiple outlets at Tech. The survey primarily asks respondents on their childcare needs and if they already utilize the centers at the Institute, and what financial assistance would be needed to make them viable options. 

“I got an email from one of the [graduate] students that uses the centers and she was saying: ‘This is great that you’re looking at doing this because,’ she said something like 80% of her stiped is going towards childcare right now,” Amero said. Graduate SGA also advertised the survey and it was also featured in a recent graduate student newsletter. According to Amero, 75% of the two centers’ students were from Tech before the pandemic, and the centers also enroll a smaller portion of children from outside the Tech community. Amero hopes that as the centers reopen, they will be able to support more children associated with the Institute based on the resources secured from final proposal. The deadline to fill out the survey is March 4, and it can be found on Tech’s childcare website.