Anna Miller, executive director of the Early Childhood Center for College of Education and Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute, quoted in Model D, "How Detroit businesses and institutions are contributing to employee welfare with on-site childcare”

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Model D, 11/27

How Detroit businesses and institutions are contributing to employee welfare with on-site childcare

By Melinda Clynes

Wayne State University has two on-site childcare centers for faculty, staff, students and community members: the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute Early Childhood Center and the College of Education Early Childcare Center, both serving children ages 2-and-a-half to 5 years old. Even with two centers, WSU still is experiencing an overwhelming need for additional childcare. WSU's Daycare Implementation Committee works to identify options for childcare in the Midtown area, including expanding on-site campus care. A survey done in 2014-2015 had identified a significant need for accessible, affordable childcare, particularly for infants. Faculty, staff and students expressed interest in both full and part-time options. Loraleigh Keashly, associate dean of curricular and student affairs, is chair of the committee. She says that the committee continues to explore a variety of models for offering childcare. "What is clear to us is that in order to provide our community members access to affordable, flexible and high-quality care, we need to be in close connection with providers in the area and be open to exploring creative partnerships." Cost and quality are also front and center for the Daycare Implementation Committee. "Affordability and quality of care are high priorities for our community members and thus the institution," says Keashly. "So we are also looking at ways to subsidize the costs of care to enhance affordability for our WSU community members." Wayne State University was a forerunner in offering on-campus daycare, with the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute and Early Childhood Center established in 1922 (not officially part of WSU until the 1980s). According to Anna Miller, who serves as executive director for both centers, it was one of the first "nursery schools" in the country, and a place where people would come to learn about child development. Merrill Palmer and its sister center across campus serve 80 to 90 children total, and parents have multiple scheduling options. Both WSU centers have waiting lists.