MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Toddlers, babies and their parents sent a strong message to senior staff at the University of Minnesota by delivering a petition signed by thousands of people as a last ditch effort to prevent the only daycare on campus from closing.
Armed with a petition, signed by 3,000 people, five-year-old Lincoln Pearson has a simple question for University President Eric Kaler.
“We want to know why our school has to close,” said Lincoln.
Nearly 150 parents plus staff learned last month the Child Development Center is slated to close next year. The College of Education wants to use the space for research and training as it expands its lab-based early childhood development program.
Parents are begging for the CDC not to close, including Joe Allen. His three-year-old attends daycare at the center and his 12-week-old just started on Wednesday.
“Now we are trying to figure out where you can get an infant and a three-year-old in and the same spot,” said Allen. “It can be a year on one waiting list, two years on another waiting list. We are just kind of hoping for the best.”
“We wanted to come and also show all the families affected - diverse background and cultures,” said Sara Hurley, a parent.
Vice President of University Relations Matt Kramer greeted the group. He pointed out closing the CDC is a re-prioritization focused on furthering education and research, but adds the message today will not be ignored.
“It reemphasizes this [request for proposal] we are putting together,” said Kramer. “Moving forward, that if the university is going to have child care for faculty or staff, employees, it needs to be of size and scale to serve many more people.”
“I am hopeful and if it’s not for my kids, I’m hopeful for the next 45 years of kids, the families here at the U of M,” said Allen.
The university plans to work with an advisory group to consider proposals for other child care options. Kramer pointed a partnership with a YMCA or another daycare provider might be possible down the road.