The halls were empty. The playground was silent. The classrooms, dark. This was the look of the Schneider Children’s Center after the parents had picked up their children. But after June 12th, it could be that way, forever. Despite the recent student vote to fund the Children’s Center for the 2016/17 school year with student fees, the center is still slated to close next month due to a budget imbalance.
“This is scary. There is such a shortage of infant and toddler care in the valley, and they don’t compare to the quality of care you get at the Schneider Center,” said Amanda Singh Bans, an adjunct instructor in the Sociology department. She is one of several parents that have decided to take matters into their own hands. They started a Facebook page for concerned parents, which now has 124 members, and are currently looking into alternate funding methods to keep the center open. Some of the ideas they have discussed include various grants, partnerships with the Education Center at SOU, and an alternate strategy to fund the center for the long term.
While the student vote does offer a solution for the 2016/17 school year, it does not solve the long-term issues facing the children’s center. “The overall problem that needs to be addressed”, according to Bans, “is how to make the center sustainable, and the fact that the university can’t fund it is problematic as well.” Kathy Spain, the Director of the Schneider Children’s center said “it isn’t fair for the students to foot the bill, and that funding source could vanish with one vote.” One of the other possibilities said Spain, “we are looking into the Oregon Child Development Coalition to possibly get a Head Start program in the center, which would make a big difference.”
The issue goes much deeper than economics for Bans, who stated, “accessible childcare should be a basic human right, and do we really want to be known as the University who shut down their childcare program because it wasn’t making enough money?”
Meanwhile, concerned parents continue to search for new funding sources. On May 30th from 10am until 1 pm, there will be a benefit for the Schneider Children’s Center in the Ashland Plaza.