WMU’s decision to close the beloved Children’s Place this summer has caught many in the campus community off guard, especially given the popularity and apparent success of the facility. Below is a letter of concern shared by a WMU employee. We’ve also included a 2017 WMU News article describing the federal grant. See previous posts here on thewmuaaup.com for more information about this issue.
“Despite the many reasons laid out by former President Haenicke for why such a facility was absolutely needed on our campus, the current university administration decided to shut down WMU’s childcare facility, The Children’s Place. They cite the usual financial reasons for the closure, despite the fact that it was awarded a huge 4-year federal grant just two years ago! In fact, I think this place must have the lowest overhead of any commercial daycare/preschool facility in the area due to its high dependence on student employees. Nevertheless, WMU claims financial hardship.
When they made that same claim about WMU’s Sara Swickard facility [a former private home on Knollwood converted to a WMU childcare facility in 1987], I asked to see the official financial reports that led to the decision and was told directly by the VP for Business and Finance that no such reports or written analysis existed. He explained that his people simply sat around a table verbally throwing out estimates until they could justify demolishing the building.
I find it telling that universities such as The University of Michigan, Michigan State, Oakland University, CMU, GVSU, and even EMU, all see the value of providing onsite childcare/preschool to university student parents, but WMU does not.”
Below is a WMU news article celebrating The Children’s Place 2017 federal grant
Children’s Place receives grant to support student-parents
October 29, 2017
KALAMAZOO. Mich.—Western Michigan University’s Children’s Place Learning Center was recently awarded a four-year federal grant totaling $718, 936 in partnership with the College of Education and Human Development. Starting Oct. 1, the grant provides $179,734 each year for the next four years. WMU is one of only four Michigan schools to receive the award.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program, or CCAMPIS, grant will help student-parents address the unique barriers they face while pursuing and completing their degree programs. Funds will be used to enhance programs including academic resources, parenting education, social support activities and staff professional development opportunities.
At the Children’s Place Learning Center, Pell-eligible WMU student-parents will receive a 50 percent child-care tuition discount under the grant program. Up to half of the spaces in each of the three classrooms will be dedicated for CCAMPIS.
CHILDREN’S PLACE LEARNING CENTER
Providing intentional activities focused on growth and development, the center offers pre-kindergarten, preschool, school age and toddler learning options for children ages 15 months to 12 years. Conveniently located in the middle of campus, it is committed to providing affordable child care for children of WMU students, faculty and staff, and the local community.
The Children’s Place is accredited through the National Association of Education for Young Children, and has achieved a four-star Michigan’s Great Start to Quality rating. The center also participates in the Great Start to Readiness program and KCR4’s to better prepare 4-year-olds for kindergarten.