New childcare center opens for Northwestern families

Cat Zakrzewski, Assistant Campus Editor

A new childcare center opened in mid-September now offers a variety of early education options to Northwestern faculty, staff and full-time students following criticism from competing local day care facilities.

Bright Horizons Family Solutions now has spaces open at its location a block south of campus, according to a University news release. University families will receive special benefits through a priority agreement between NU and Bright Horizons. The center held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 17.

“Our objective was to expand significantly the quality child care options for the Northwestern community in Evanston,” said Lori Anne Henderson, director of work/life resources in Human Resources in the University news release. “We’re pleased that our goal has been accomplished.”

The special benefits NU families will receive include priority enrollment/wait list status as well as a 10 percent discount off of community rates and a $50 reduction of the registration fee, according to the Office of Human Resources website.

The center offers an “open door” policy, which allows parents to visit at any time, according to the website. It offers care options for “children ages 6 weeks to 6 years of age,” according to the website.

The center’s amenities include a media center, an art studio, a Movement Matters Zone, an infant and toddler playground and a rooftop playground, according to the website.

“We are very pleased that the expanded options will enable more faculty, staff and students to take advantage of the University’s child care programs,” Henderson said in an April news release announcing the center.

The Daily reported Bright Horizons began renovating its space in April. Of the 300 children the center will provide care for, at least 60 will be from Northwestern families, according to the article.

Prior to beginning construction, Bright Horizons was at the center of criticism from local daycare providers because of its large size and concerns about the quality of care it could provide.

“Comfort of children is associated with the actual number of children in the space, and not just the relationship between the number of children and the number of teachers,” Sheryl Katz, executive director of Evanston Day Nursery Association, told The Daily in April. “That said, I think any organization that is taking care of children clearly will need to make the best choices they can in how they handle rivals and partners so the experience of the children is at the highest level possible.”

Evanston Day Nursery provides care to only 46 children and is a nonprofit business.

Not all local childcare options are critical of Bright Horizon’s size, according to the article from The Daily. Bright Horizons will supplement existing NU childcare options, such as those available at the McGaw YMCA. The McGaw YMCA served 300 clients, according to The Daily article. Sonja Coster, vice president and branch executive director at McGaw YMCA, told The Daily there was a high demand for childcare in Evanston.

“I definitely feel that they will help to fill the need, because we have 150 children on our waiting list and we just simply cannot help everybody,” she said.

— Cat Zakrzewski