Penn State Delays Child Care Management Change for Two Years
March 19, 2014 7:00 AM
by Jennifer Miller
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Outgoing Penn State President Rodney Erickson has decided the university will put off changing management at an on-campus child care center until 2016.

"The university is supportive of the need for high-quality child care and in having the most qualified teachers. These findings and recommendations will improve the resources available," Erickson said in a prepared statement.

Last summer, the university announced its plan to hire Hildebrandt Learning Centers, which already manages the university's other child care center, Hort Woods. The university agreed to delay the changeover after a number of parents raised concerns. The university also agreed to let an appointed task force take a look at child care at Penn State.

The task force, which included parents, completed its report earlier this month. It recommends delaying any changes in management for two years, while additional data is collected to determine the best course of action.

The university will continue to operate the Bennett Family Center as it has in the past with its staff remaining Penn State employees until June 30, 2016.

Additionally, Erickson says current staff of Hort Woods who are university employees will remain Penn State employees throughout the remainder of the Hildebrandt contract, which expires in two years.

Over those two years, Erickson says the university will consult with child care and early education services on all Penn State campuses.

"The discussions should include a wide range of issues, including the pros and cons of university -- or contractor-operated facilities, including the implications of changes for quality and affordability," he says.

At the same time, oversight responsibilities will shift from the College of Health and Human Development to the Office of Human Resources as the university establishes a director of child care programs.

In addition to holding off on changes in management, the task force called for more consistent budgeting data as well as annual data regarding the benefits the both child care centers provide to the university.

Erickson has tasked Senior Vice President David Gray, in collaboration with the Office of Human Resources, to oversee the data collection, cost accounting, monitoring, and benchmarking processes needed to make decisions about the university's approach to child care by mid-2016.

Jacqueline Edmondson, associate vice president and associate dean of undergraduate education, chaired the 14-member task force. She praised Erickson's approached in a prepared statement issued by the university.

"The university administration has been instrumental over the years in ensuring that Penn State provides high-quality child care for its students, staff and employees, and President Erickson's response to the task force report continues that important value," she said.

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