Last Thursday, the University unveiled an initiative to expand daycare offerings for the Yale community. Faculty, staff and graduate employees alike applauded the program’s commitment to construction of a new childcare center, expanded emergency backup care options, financial aid in covering daycare costs and the creation of about 100 new openings at childcare facilities. Citing shortcomings in the University’s past daycare coverage policies, administrators said the initiative will aim to build new facilities as well as improve existing ones.
We admire the sentiment that prompted this campaign, but greater specifics are necessary for the program to reach its full potential. Available resources — both in the form of financial aid monies and spaces in the facilities themselves — are still finite. We believe a system must be created to assure that those with the greatest need for childcare are not left without a share of the resources. With this in mind, the administration must seek to strike a fair balance between the needs of graduate students, faculty and staff in allocating these new resources.
In addition to expanding the total number of available slots, the new childcare initiative also offers the opportunity to rectify a lack of communication that has historically limited the program’s reach. Some faculty, staff and graduate students expressed confusion regarding specific tenets of the current University-funded childcare options, and this can deter legitimate clients who would need the program from even attempting to pursue daycare at Yale. As the new initiative moves forward, the University should be sure to consistently publicize relevant information regarding these improved childcare services to all interested parties. Equal access is critical to ensure both the success and positive reception of the program, and should help stem the potential for preferential treatment at its source.
But in the face of these improvements, we hope potential recipients of the expanded childcare coverage will keep their options in perspective. A certain level of balance should guide the decision to pursue childcare: While the increased options seem likely to make the University more attractive to prospective faculty, staff and graduate employees, we hope potential beneficiaries of this increased coverage will not use this opportunity to ignore the necessary duties of a parent. And potential users of these new childcare services must not neglect the substantial costs of the programs.
But despite these concerns, we believe the new childcare initiative presents the Yale community with an opportunity to minimize the concerns regarding equal distribution of services that have been leveled at the University in recent years. The University must use this chance to strengthen its focus on childcare, family rearing and improving quality of life for everyone on its payroll.