Temple University’s faculty union is advocating for on-campus child care options for employees and discussing the expansion of existing benefits to adjunct professors and students with children.
The Temple Association of University Professionals, the faculty union that represents more than 3,000 faculty members, librarians and academics, held a Temple childcare symposium on Oct. 24 to discuss university-provided childcare.
The event was moderated by Marsha Weinraub, the Laura H. Carnell professor of psychology and chair of TAUP and the Faculty Senate’s Child Care Committee. Weinraub has been a faculty member at Temple for over forty years and is a developmental psychologist with expertise in the effects of early child care.
She said that nationally, two-parent families tend to decide that one parent will stay home because of expensive child care costs. According to a 2015 Washington Post survey, more than 75 percent of mothers and half of fathers said they passed on work opportunities to stay home and care for their children.
“Women stopped going to work,” Weinraub said. “The birth rate was going down because people didn’t want to have a second kid. They couldn’t afford the first kid.”
A proposal to expand on-campus child care benefits, which TAUP originally posed to the university in April, will be negotiated in faculty contracts in February or March of 2019, said Steve Newman, an associate professor of English and vice president of TAUP. Benefits would include an on-campus child care center, lactation rooms, after-school programs and elderly family care.
There are two existing breastfeeding spaces on campus, the social work lounge on the ninth floor of Ritter Annex and the Mamava suite, a space for women to breast pump, located on the second floor of the Student Center North lounge. Both sites opened in 2016.
“We’ve been working to try to get some child care benefits for a long time,” Newman said. “We’re waiting for a response from the administration and we hope one comes soon.”
Newman said the ultimate goal would be to open a child care facility on campus that would be available for not only university faculty and staff, but the North Philadelphia community.
“For us, child care is not only about what the union wants for itself, but a broader vision for what Temple might be,” Newman said.
The university used to have a daycare center for children between three months to kindergarten age in the Burk Mansion on North Broad Street near Jefferson. The center used to care for 80 to 100 children and closed in 1995 after a mechanical fire two years prior caused smoke damage.
The building is owned the university, which is currently exploring its historical significance. Weinraub said her son attended the daycare center 30 years ago, when it was still operating.
“They talked about how much money it would take to renovate it and it would take a lot of money, but it was a space and it was easy and convenient,” Weinraub said.
At the symposium, the child care committee followed up on the April proposal with faculty to hear their thoughts and build knowledge and support for the expansion of university-provided benefits.
The existing benefits human resources offers include the Employee Assistant Program through LifeWorks, which provides child care consulting, and the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account from Wage Works.
The Dependent Care FSA’s maximum contribution for pre-tax reimbursement on child care is $5,000 per year per family, which can only be used by full-time faculty and staff members with children younger than 13. The FSAs do not extend to adjunct or part-time employees or students who are parents.
The attending faculty said they would like to see a reduction in child care expenses, which some pay for completely out of pocket if they are part-time. Parents wrote on sticky notes at the meeting that they pay $900 to $1,200 per month for child care.
Stephanie Rouse, the College of Public Health’s Field Education Coordinator, attended the event because she’s concerned about the child care expenses for her 3-year-old son. She and her husband both work full time and her husband is taking classes at Drexel University, she said.
“When he was an infant it was $60 a day, and now it’s $50 dollars a day,” Rouse said. “It’s actually really a lot of money. Now we’re looking at preschools and they’re super expensive.”
Child care for students who are parents was also a major concern at the meeting. The number of student parents in American institutions increased by 30 percent, or 1.1 million between 2004 and 2012, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. The number of on-campus child care facilities, however, has declined.
Christine Baker-Smith, director of research for the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, spoke during the child care symposium about the necessity of local services for student parents.
“We would like to see students engaged in action, and I think that child care on campus would be a really important ultimate goal…the most important thing we have to think about is this location issue,” Baker-Smith said.
Child care with flexible hours is important, she said, and the benefits should have subsidies for people who need it full time.
“We need the ability to use it part-time, especially for students who may only need it 10 hours a week or need it in the evenings, not in the day,” Baker-Smith said.
Heather Murphy, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the College of Public Health, spoke on the meeting’s panel as a member for the Faculty Senate Status of Women Committee.
Murphy is a single mother raising a four-year-old and six-year-old, and her family primarily lives in Canada, making it difficult for her to find local child care support, she said.
“I have to leave early today because I have to pick up my kids,” Murphy said.
Several faculty present at the meeting needed to leave by 5 p.m. to pick up their children from child care.
The event provided attendees with alternative options for their child care needs, including a list of facilities near Main Campus that have at least a three-star rating from Keystone.