UNO Parents Fight To Keep Children’s Center Open

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Several parents with ties to UNO are scrambling to find a day care facility for their kids. The university is closing their children’s center in less than two months.

UNO undergraduate student Claire Duhe is trying to figure out how to make things work next semester. She has a one-year-old, lives on campus, and relies on the UNO Children’s Center to take care of her little boy, but in less than two months the university says the center is closing. The move leaves dozens parents in a bind.

Graduate student and mother of three Jenny Phan says, “We found out through a letter that was distributed to all the parents at the children’s center.”

“I picked it up and it was, ‘Oh the university is closing down the center,’ so that was a real shock,” says undergraduate student and mother Claire Duhe.

“I stress about it all the time; not knowing where to put her. Where is a safe place for her to be secure?” questions UNO staff member and mother Courtney Polk.

“The administration has stonewalled us as far as providing reasons behind their decisions. They didn’t involve us in the decisions,” says UNO alumni and father Michael Velez.

“Mid academic year closing is going to put a huge strain on all of us,” says Phan.

The university says the UNO Children’s Center will close on December 20th.

Right now 81 kids are enrolled and affected. They are kids that belong to parents who are UNO students, faculty, staff and alumni. The university says it boils down to numbers. They say the center costs about $800,000 a year to operate. They take in roughly $600,000 a year, leaving them with a $200,000 yearly deficit.

UNO Director of Public Relations Adam Norris sent WGNO this statement:

“The University of New Orleans will close the Children’s Center on December 20, 2013. Administrators notified affected parents and guardians of this decision on October 10. In these challenging budgetary times, the University must focus its resources on its core mission of teaching and conducting research. While we would have liked to continue providing child care services to our faculty, staff and students, operating the center was too costly while serving a comparatively small number of children. On October 15, we held an open house featuring a number of quality child care centers in an effort to help parents and guardians identify a new provider.”

The reasoning doesn’t make any sense to some.

“You have students right here now enrolled at UNO who want to be education majors, who want to be teachers and preschool teachers. Why not use it as a co-op instead of getting rid of it,” questions Polk.

“I haven’t found any kind of quality like the children’s center and I haven’t found anything that I have felt as comfortable or welcome, so I really don’t know what I’m going to do,” says Duhe.

UNO parents protesting the decision are meeting Monday (October 28th) at 5:30 PM at the University Center in room 208.