Penn State forms task force on child care to look University-wide at operations

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A task force to examine the operations of all University-affiliated child care centers across Penn State has been formed and will begin its work with a goal of making recommendations on operations, policies, quality and affordability to President Rodney Erickson by the end of December.

Jacqueline Edmondson, associate vice president and associate dean of Undergraduate Education, has been named to chair the 14-member Presidential Task Force on Child Care comprised of a broad cross-section of parents, faculty, staff and administrators from across Penn State. Edmondson, who before her University career was a child care teacher and administrator, also previously served as associate dean in the College of Education, most recently as the associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies.

Also serving on the task force are:

-- Lisa Abbott, associate vice president for human resources for Health Affairs, Penn State Hershey Medical Center;
-- Lori Bechtel-Wherry, chancellor, Penn State Altoona;
-- Abigail Diehl, assistant dean for alumni relations and special projects, College of Health and Human Development;
-- Sarah Fischer, doctoral student, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education;
-- Lisa German, associate dean for collections, information and access services, Penn State Libraries and chairwoman, Commission for Women;
-- Wendy Haslet, kindergarten teacher, Bennett Family Center at University Park;
-- Eunice Moore, director, Penn State Behrend Early Learning Center;
-- Jill Putnam, teacher, Child Care Center at Hort Woods, University Park;
-- Victoria Sanchez, assistant vice provost for Educational Equity;
-- Erica Smithwick, associate professor of geography; faculty senator; Hort Woods parent;
-- Christine Marmé Thompson, professor of art education;
-- Nancy Turow, educational director, The Goddard School, State College;
-- Sandra Weaver, youth programs compliance specialist; and
-- Daniel Willis, professor of architecture, Bennett Family Center parent.

"Child care is a critical component and concern in the lives of a number of our employees and students, and we should have the best understanding of who we are serving, how we are serving them and if we are providing quality care at an affordable cost that is sustainable," said Erickson. "The formation of this task force is motivated, in part, by the Core Council report to the College of Health and Human Development, which recommended a University-wide task force and an assessment of all University-affiliated child care centers."

Erickson was referring to the March 2011 Core Council report in which an assessment of Penn State's child care centers was advocated, since the College of Health and Human Development is responsible for oversight of two centers on the University Park campus. The Core Council, a group of 13 senior administrators and faculty, was charged with maximizing academic potential, reducing redundancy and freeing resources for higher priority uses. The president acknowledged that the task force also is being created to address the recent concerns about the University’s proposed plan to shift management of the Bennett Family Center at University Park to an outside firm.

Currently, six Penn State campuses offer on-campus care for children of faculty, staff and students. The task force also is expected to help clarify the roles of the College of Health and Human Development as well as the Office of Human Resources and any other University entities that provide oversight for Penn State child care centers.

The Presidential Task Force on Child Care will identify common concerns, define responsibilities and help coordinate policies across Penn State. The task force will benchmark Penn State’s child care arrangements against those of public peer institutions; will examine the centers’ child care philosophies, and how they are managed; assess demand; and review tuition, operating costs and subsidies, to name a few of the assignments given to the task force.

"We will work diligently on this issue, because we know how important it is to our community," said Chair Edmondson. "It is a priority to the University that Penn State faculty, staff and students feel confident that their young children are well cared for, and we will make recommendations to the president with this goal in mind."

The task force will convene as needed and has been asked to complete its work and make a series of recommendations by Dec. 31, 2013.

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Last Updated October 01, 2013