- Published on Apr 19, 2007
- Contact Diane Brown
The new building will be located within the same footprint as the current Towsley Center on South Forest and will combine the U-M Children's Center for Working Families and Pound House—both built before 1915—into a single new center, tentatively called the Towsley Children's House.
The proposal for new construction is a result of the U-M Child Care Initiative, begun in 2005 by President Mary Sue Coleman to provide more full-time child care on campus, develop new infant and toddler care programs, and improve the University's facilities for early childhood education and care. The new building is part of the initiative's overall facility improvement plans that included a recommendation approved by the regents in February to renovate the North Ingalls Building, which houses the U-M Children's Center, and future planning for improvements to the UMHS Child Care Center.
"High-quality on-campus child care is vital for recruitment and retention of faculty and staff, and to our commitment to work/life balance," said Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources. The University's current child care centers are operating at maximum capacity according to national accreditation guidelines, while the requests for child care among U-M faculty, staff and students have increased steadily over the past few years, Thomas says, including a growing number of requests for infant care.
Timothy Slottow, executive vice president and chief financial officer, gave the regents a construction estimate of $8 million for the 22,500-square foot facility that will serve up to 142 children--double the capacity of the current building and creating the opportunity to care for 16 new infants and 36 new toddlers. The regents' approval included authorization to retain the architectural firm Integrated Design Solutions LLC to design the facility.
"The building replacement project involved the collaboration of parents, teachers, researchers, program directors, student parents, the Rackham Graduate School and University Human Resources," said Jennie McAlpine, director of the Work/Life Resources Program. "The combined input helped us develop a proposal that would allow full- and part-day programs, provide space for child development research and serve children with special needs in a barrier-free building that meets all accreditation requirements. With a contemporary building designed to meet our current needs and with the potential to grow as needs change, the door is opened to all kinds of possibilities."
McAlpine cites full-day summer camps for children ages 5-10 as one possibility at the new location so that U-M can meet a greater spectrum of need for faculty, staff and student parents.
Building design work and the development of a construction schedule will begin immediately. McAlpine says the University is exploring options to continue child care services during the construction period using leased space or an alternate University location on a temporary basis. Once the construction timeline is known, parents of children enrolled in the U-M Children's Center for Working Families and Pound House will be contacted with details.
A new Web site offers information on U-M centers for early childhood education and care on all campuses and in the U-M Health System.Visit: www.umich.edu/~hraa/childcare/.