Campus Child Care Initiative
March 2015 L&C Child Care Center Commitment Survey: Findings
During the 2013-14 school year, the Lewis & Clark Kids and Families group worked with an outside consultant, Margaret Browning, to conduct a feasibility study for a child care center at Lewis & Clark College. The feasibility study found that a center would be selfsustaining, with the College providing the common services provided to all offices and programs on campus (eg. IT support, phone, security system and infrastructure; utilities, and cleaning and maintenance services).
The study also found a strong level of support for the creation of a center across all three campuses. With 810 faculty, staff, and students responding to the November 2013 child care survey, 93% voiced support for an onsite educational child care program. This widespread support affirms a center would align with Lewis & Clark’s culture and values.
L&C Employee Recruitment/Retention
Advantage in recruiting and retaining diverse and high caliber faculty and staff, who have children or may be planning on having children in the future. The center will deepen employee parents’ commitment to the College, and reduce turnover—which has been shown to cost up to 2.5 times an employee’s salary.
- Academics: The center can function as a comprehensive program emphasizing psychology and education research. Faculty in the psychology and early childhood education programs anticipate benefits to their scholarship and opportunities for student research.
- Student Experience: The center will provide students with desirable jobs and a rich work experience, potentially related to their academic or career pursuits.
- Community: Overwhelmingly positive survey responses to the proposal demonstrate that even those who would not enroll children in the center see a child care center as an integral part of the community. The center has the potential to facilitate greater involvement on campus by faculty, staff, and student parents, with impacts on student experience and retention.
- Reputation: A high-quality center will become a part of the image of the College, increasing our visibility as an elite institution, integrating community needs into its academic programs, and offering this equitable benefit to its community. It will also increase our national sustainability rating in STARS report.
In addition to these findings, it is worth noting that Reed College, one of our closest peer institutions, recently created an on-campus child care center under a similar model.
2016 Follow-up Survey: Price Point and Likelihood to Enroll
In considering the 2013-14 LCKF child care center feasibility study, Executive Council asked LCKF and the office of Institutional Research to resurvey the community. The council requested more robust data on the likelihood that parents and potential parents would enroll their children in a high-quality center, at the price points outlined in the Feasibility Study.
Working with Mark Figueroa, the committee created a survey designed to gauge that level of commitment. Parents and potential parents were asked the following question: Assuming that LC were able to offer a high-quality educational and research-based child care center at these competitive price points in fall of 2016, how likely would you be to enroll?
Responses were gathered on a 5-point likert scale, from “Not at all likely” to “Highly Likely.” We received 158 responses overall. 90 of the respondents indicated that they were parents or potential parents of children who would be of child care age in 2016. Here is the distribution of their responses:
The committee is pleased to see that 49 of the respondents rated their likelihood to enroll a 4 or 5. Given that there are parents and potential parents on campus who did not respond to the survey and that some of those who did respond may have more than one child who would be enrolled in the center, we believe that the potential initial enrollment of the center is higher than the 49 parents who indicated a likelihood to enroll.
The model outlined in the 2013-14 feasibility study proposed an initial enrollment of 46. The results of our survey indicate that parents are willing to pay for a high-quality center at Lewis & Clark, that the center will be filled, and that there is room for expansion.
Amongst parents and potential parents who indicated they’d be unlikely to enroll (1 or 2 on the likert scale), the overwhelming majority (68%) indicated that the price point was beyond their means. While a strictly market rate center is absolutely feasible, it may be worthwhile to explore options such as enrolling neighborhood children at a higher rate. This kind of model could allow the center to offer sliding-scale tuition, making it accessible to lower-income College parents.
Discussions with members of the Reed child care committee reveal that they received multiple RFPs, at tuition rates that were less than those proposed in our model.This makes us optimistic that a similar outcome might happen at L&C. Potentially lower price points could result in even greater demand for enrollment than our recent commitment survey found, and greater possibilities for scholarships or a sliding-scale tuition model.
Our work shows that a center can be self-sustaining and an asset to the community.