Dear Friends of the CFRC:

Thank you for your continued interest in the fate of the Child and Family Research Center (CFRC) at University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). It’s my pleasure to provide you this update.

As relayed in my previous letter, UNR administrators sent out a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to national child care chains inviting them to submit a proposal to “Replace and Expand University Child Care Capacity.” The premise is that UNR will provide a designated parcel of land and the selected commercial vendor will construct and operate a facility to serve 200 to 250 children and their families.

KinderCare was the only respondent to the RFQ, and a date was set for their representatives to visit campus and meet with the Child Care Committee, which includes Sherry Waugh, CFRC director; Dr. Melissa Burnham, Associate Dean of the College of Education and professor of Human Development and Family Studies (a program which the CFRC has always been part of and intricately tied to); and, at the request of CFRC parents, Dr. Marian Berryhill, a parent representative. KinderCare cancelled the campus visit and instead a conference call was held with Ms. Waugh, Dr. Burnham, and Dr. Berryhill. The specifics of that meeting are not known since members of the committee had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

It is possible that the university is hoping that child care might be a revenue source, able to provide earned income back to the university. There are no models that bear this out, certainly not models that include quality infant/toddler care. Further, although the CFRC receives no state or university funding, the university does provide the CFRC space, utilities, and basic maintenance. Utilizing a private vendor would both free up space and transfer these costs to that entity. We understand the university’s growing need for space, but don’t believe that contracting with an outside vendor will be either cost-neutral or in the best interest of our campus families or our students.   

Two meetings were held in February by Provost Kevin Carman and Dr. Kenneth Coll, Dean, College of Education, one each with CFRC staff and CFRC parents. I don’t think either of them was prepared for the outpouring of support that was abundantly evident in both meetings. Standing-room-only crowds asked pointed questions and made impassioned pleas for the CFRC. Essentially, the request from all these people was to allow the CFRC to remain the provider of child care on campus. To do this, a new CFRC campus facility would need to be added to the university’s fundraising priorities, something long advocated for but never provided by campus administrators.

In a February 14 article in the Nevada Sagebrush, Provost Carman was quoted as saying, “the university has had to set priorities, and…our priority emphasis over the past few years has been building facilities that have been expanding our educational and research capacity and serving the students broadly on our university.” Clearly administrators need to view the CFRC as more than a convenient service provider; it has always been a teaching and research site, thus, every bit as “academic” as other campus programs.

Throughout this time more people became aware of UNR administration’s plans, in part to an editorial published in the Reno Gazette-Journal, the “CFRC Alumni and Friends” Facebook page, and the “Save the CFRC” website. More than 1000 people have signed the online petition and hundreds added supportive and heartfelt comments. Many people also wrote letters to UNR President Marc Johnson and Provost Kevin Carman in support of the CFRC.  Thank you so much to all of you who have added your voices to the conversation.

So, where are we now? There is certainly a heightened awareness by UNR administrators of the CFRC and its role on the campus and in the community as a model of excellence. President Johnson and Provost Carman have both verbally stated or written that they have no intentions of replacing CFRC, only of augmenting it. As of yet, they have provided no clear vision of how our campus could support both a commercial provider and the CFRC.

We know that the university’s support of the CFRC as the only solution to campus’s childcare problem is the only solution. To that end, our campaign must continue. We need your help to keep talking about the issue among your spheres of influence, with two specific things in mind:

  • That quality child care exists in our community, and is deserving of more support and more conversation.
  • That the university must include bigger and better CFRC facilities among its fundraising priorities.

There will be more news soon. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your questions and ideas. Thank you for your continuing interest in and support of the CFRC. We certainly know how important this program is not only to our campus but also to the community and the state.

Sincerely,

Eva L. Essa, Ph.D.

Foundation Professor Emerita and
Former Director of the CFRC (1971-1987)

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