An inquiry regarding child care at Vanderbilt, and specifically: Do graduate and professional students eligible for child care get some priority over staff/faculty? With the plan to expand services, will students be considered for some priority?
Thank you for your advocacy of the critical need for child care to support the Vanderbilt community and our shared mission of research, teaching and service. Nashville is facing unprecedented growth – at the same time, the number of child care options have decreased due to the prohibitive expense of licensing and operation. As this dynamic unfolds, Vanderbilt is addressing the need for additional child care capacity on two fronts:
- Redirection of VUMC child care slots to VU – Since the Vanderbilt Child & Family Center opened 35 years ago, we have served both the VU and VUMC communities. However, due to the increased need for child care capacity for both entities, and differences in needs between the VU and VUMC communities, our organizations agreed to operate child care programs separately in order to expand and enhance our respective programs. On July 1, 2018, the centers were separated into VU-managed facilities (18th Avenue, 19th Avenue and Edgehill) and VUMC-managed centers (Belcourt, Patterson). It is notable that while some families transitioned to another center, all families enrolled received placement. No enrolled families, irrespective of entity, forfeited a child care slot. Care was also given to place siblings at the same center and to the extent possible, accommodate families’ requests for placement at a particular location.
- VCFC is approaching the final year of providing service to VUMC and will regain 132 child care slots in the summer of 2020. This alone will drastically reduce the VU wait list. This timeline was established to provide VUMC sufficient time to locate, remodel, develop and license their new centers.
- Construction of a new Early Childhood Education School – You may be aware that a Child Care Advisory Task Force was formed last fall and that one of the areas of study is the construction of a new early childhood center. Crucial to the task force’s work is a recommendation on total capacity requirements for eth VU population. This was informed by a survey and the assessment of VU community demographics. The white paper that came out of this research can be viewed at https://www.vanderbilt.edu/child-family-center/files/VCFCATF-FinalReport-2019.pdf
Currently, 9% of VCFC’s university enrolled children have parents that are graduate and professional students; the rest of our families are faculty and staff. The Wait List management process prioritizes siblings of enrolled children, as outlined in the Task Force white paper referenced above. Our highest priority is to increase capacity for the entirety of the Vanderbilt community, and with the expectation of priority for siblings of faculty, staff, graduate students and post-docs seeking Vanderbilt child care are treated with an equal level of priority.
As a working mother, I deeply appreciate the challenges faced by parents and am grateful for the support of senior administration to move forward with solutions to the complex needs of university families.
Kathleen Seabolt, Ed.D.
Executive Director, Vanderbilt Child and Family Center