Adam McPhail, Contributing Photographer

Adding to previous uncertainty regarding changes due to the new partnership between the Yale New Haven Hospital Day Care Center and Bright Horizons, YNHH leadership announced the closure of one of two YNHH daycare centers. Parents report that they are now struggling to confirm their current spot at the daycare center. 

The daycare center currently operates out of two locations, each located around 10 minutes away from the other by car. Both provide childcare services to employees of the Yale New Haven Hospital, though the daycare located at 110 Davenport St. is larger and operates with greater child enrollment.

On Feb. 13, however, families enrolled at the Yale New Haven Hospital Day Care Center received an email announcing that the Davenport Street location would be closing permanently on June 28, 2024. 

At a Feb. 15 town hall meeting for parents, YNHH administrators informed parents that the remaining YNHH daycare center, on 501 George St., would not have the capacity to include all children currently enrolled at the Davenport Street facility.

“We recognize that there will not be a spot for everyone,” said Melissa Turner, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at YNHH, during the town hall. 

YNHH did not immediately respond to the News’s request for comment on Sunday afternoon.

The closure is occurring amid record losses for the hospital system during the COVID-19 pandemic: for the fiscal year 2023, the Yale New Haven Health system budgeted for a $250 million deficit.

As a cost-saving measure, administrators plan to outsource daycare operations to Bright Horizons, a national organization that provides childcare services, YNHH leaders announced to parents in January. The shift has sparked concern among parents about prospective tuition hikes at the YNHH daycare, which previously cost far less than local comparable daycare facilities due to YNHH subsidies. 

The prospective partnership with Bright Horizons has also prompted alarm about daycare educators’ futures at the center. During a staff meeting with daycare educators, Turner and other YNHH administrators announced that current daycare employees would have to be rehired for their current positions. 

At the town hall, administrators at the YNHH Daycare Center and Bright Horizons attempted to address some of the parents’ concerns about the consolidation of the daycare centers and the new YNHH-Bright Horizons partnership.

Turner reassured parents that YNHH’s partnership does not indicate that the hospital is “selling our daycare and daycare services.”

She also clarified that all teaching staff in good standing would be offered employment at the George Street daycare center. There would be no application and interview, she added — “simply a background check.”

However, Turner announced that there would be limited capacity at the consolidated daycare location, meaning that not every family could be promised a spot.

Parents will be required to complete a “Needs Assessment Survey,” which daycare administrators will use to determine which families will receive spots at the consolidated center. The survey will also be used to determine new hours of operation and tuition rates. 

“No surprise to all of you, we had a pretty substantial subsidy in place up to this point,” said Jodie Boldrighini, the vice president of human resources at YNHH. “We first need to understand the needs assessment and understand the volume of children and teachers at the center and do a market assessment of where rates are.”

The News was able to acquire the survey from parents. Other than family information and demographics, the survey includes two questions. The first asks whether the children currently enrolled at the center are interested in staying, have plans to leave or would be graduating in the fall. The form then asks for “hours needed” from families. It does not include any questions or information about tuition rates. 

The closure and re-assessment process has generated new frustration among parents at the center. Deborah Greig, an educator in New Haven who has two children at the daycare, believes that the daycare consolidation process has broken old promises of a guaranteed spot until they reach the age for kindergarten.

She chose the YNHH Daycare Center in part because it is one of the few facilities that allows children to stay until they are 5 years old without switching locations, she said.

“It is something we intentionally looked for, we want them to feel comfortable at a place,” said Greig. 

Because her child is at a specific age threshold that some childcare systems do not support, the YNHH Daycare Center may be Greig’s only option, she added. 

“I was talking to some daycare places and they said ‘He’s 2 years and 7 months old in August, and he needs to be 2.8,” Greig said “So we just can’t have a spot for him in our Pre-K because he doesn’t make the cut off.’”

Meanwhile, public preschools are not an option for Greig’s family because the cutoff is even higher, at 3 years of age. In addition, most public preschools end at 3 p.m. and do not provide after-school care until she finishes her workday. 

Another daycare parent, a YNHH medical staff administrator who requested anonymity from the News over concerns of employer retribution, described concerns over the consolidation’s impact on her daughter’s sense of emotional stability.

After moving to New Haven two years ago with her daughter, the employee tried other daycare locations where her daughter experienced “a lot of behavioral and emotional difficulties adjusting.” 

However, her child had a smooth transition to the Davenport location of the daycare, she said. The center was also conveniently located for her. 

“I don’t have to worry about finding a place that opens before I go to work,” the employee said. “I don’t have to worry about getting to work on time. The commute is just very seamless.” 

Her biggest fear is that her daughter will not be able to transition into a new environment. 

“I am worried that she would relive the emotional changes or behavior changes just due to the changes of people, routine, or how this other center may run their operations,” she added.

The parents also expressed skepticism about the continued affordability of the daycare center. 

One of the other parents of a child at the YNHH daycare center is an employee at a Bright Horizons center in Connecticut, she said. 

However, because he couldn’t afford Bright Horizons tuition, he opted to send his daughter to the cheaper YNHH center instead.

The current closest Bright Horizons daycare center is located at Yale West Campus at 230 West Campus Dr. in Orange.

Asuka Koda covers the Yale School of Medicine and the Yale School of Public Health. From New York City, she is a first-year in Davenport majoring in Mathematics and Philosophy.