Chicago Campus may offer child care

Dalia Naamani-Goldman

As slots fill in Northwestern’s new child-care program at the McGaw YMCA in Evanston, NU officials are looking for space for a site on the Chicago Campus.

The university is conducting a feasibility study to investigate university real estate options, said Katie Krauch, NU’s coordinator of worklife, child and family resources. University officials hope to choose a site by late Spring Quarter.

“There are so few options for people downtown,” psychology Prof. Alice Eagly said. “We’re still working for the Chicago campus. We’re making every effort for that.”

As part of a partnership established in early October, the Evanston YMCA, 1000 Grove St., reserves spaces for children of people affiliated with NU, which provides funds for programming and administrative costs.

Nearly 50 of NU’s 64 available full-day preschool openings have been filled, Krauch said. The YMCA is reserving the slots through Monday. She has helped organize four open houses and sent fliers to graduate students and NU departments to generate interest.

“I think response has been pretty high,” Krauch said. “Enrollments are up at the (YMCA) overall, and part of that can be attributed to the influx of Northwestern families.”

The university will spend $30,000 this year to implement “program enhancements,” which include classes in art, dance and drama. Professors and students are volunteering time to teach the children, and a fine arts program using NU volunteers and professors is in the works.

In addition, the university is providing $50,000 in scholarships for children of faculty, staff and students and $1,500 to cover administrative costs of the collaboration this year. NU will increase its commitment next year to provide $75,000 in scholarships and $40,000 for programming, in addition to larger administrative costs.

Eugene Sunshine, vice president for business and finance, said NU wants to enhance YMCA programs for all children, not just those affiliated with the university.

“One of the things that we’re spending money on and that we really wanted to do was build on the fact that the (YMCA) already has a very good program for the little ones,” Sunshine said.

Chris Hart, vice president of the McGaw YMCA, said the center is creating new infant and toddler rooms.

For now, the YMCA has the facilities to accommodate more children, Hart said. But he is unsure about the future.

“No one knows what may occur down the road,” Hart said. “We’ve only got four walls and our ability to expand is ‘x’ amount.”

Law Prof. Charlotte Crane said she is pleased the university finally is making arrangements for university child care.

“Certainly, to the extent that child care is something the university is thinking about, the university is being responsive,” said Crane, chairwoman of NU’s Committee on Women in the Academic Community and served on the university’s child-care committee. “Their attitude clearly has changed.”

Eagly, who also served on the child-care committee, said she is pleased that NU created a program. However, Eagly said she is disappointed the day care is not on the Evanston Campus.

“I don’t know if it will be large enough to accommodate everyone,” she said. “It’s still in the the beginning stage.”

Theatre Prof. Rives Collins will entertain children at the YMCA today with storytelling and singing. Some of the students in his storytelling class also have volunteered there.

“All of the research indicates that for young children, exposure to the arts is very healthy,” Collins said. “It helps with creative problem solving, empathy and social skills.”

Sergio Zavala, a student at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and his wife, Sandra Deza, received a scholarship from NU that allows them to send their 2-year-old son, Iago, to the YMCA for full-day preschool. That allows Deza to audit Kellogg courses and take classes at the Evanston Arts Center.

“Overall it’s very good,” Deza said. “It’s very convenient.”