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Childcare on the UC Berkeley Campus

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Anxious about uncertain future of UC preschools

Nov 2009

This has been a challenging year for those at UC -- furloughs for faculty/staff, drastic budget cuts, low morale. For those of us with children in one of the UC daycare centers or preschools, it's doubly anxiety-inducing.

I'm finding that I can barely stand the uncertainty of what might be coming down the pipe in my child's preschool. Already there have been major staffing changes, morale problems among the teaching staff, and significant turnover in students. Just when it seemed that things were settling down, there are new rumors swirling among the teaching staff and parents about a ''big announcement'' that will come from higher administration. Some are speculating that the preschools will be privatized, which would be counter to the reason that I enrolled my child at UC in the first place. Who knows what's true -- perhaps the big announcement is good news? A generous and visionary donor who is going to save the UC childcare centers?

I've been on the verge of transferring my little one to another preschool, but have stayed the course because things are OK now. It's the fear that everything is going to fall apart rapidly -- while I'm in the midst of a heavy teaching load or otherwise unable to act quickly -- that has me worried. What should I do? Stay put while things are OK and hope for the best, or hedge my bets and go elsewhere now while it's still possible to investigate other preschools thoughtfully and make a calm decision. How are other UC parents coping? anonymous


Wow, I was struck to see your post on this issue. I am another UC parent also trying to figure out what may be coming down the pike with our childcare. Have heard the same rumors about a ''big announcement'' and also that ECEP is looking into privatization, apparently along the lines of Stanford, which I am told was able to keep on the same teachers when they outsourced their program. Here are four data points, in no particular order: It may well be that the ''big announcement'' is what has trickled out in the last week or so, which is the plan to shift Anna Head to Albany Village and create a new childcare center there. There is an ''ECEP action'' wiki you can find on google and sign up for, and receive emails from other concerned parents (this is mostly a grad student parent list formed around the raise in fees in a previous year but people are posting about what is going on with ECEP now). Have you heard what UC Santa Cruz did in August? totally terrifying - they completely shut down their in house child care for faculty and staff (but not students since these slots don't lose money) as of January 2010. Lastly, I was told this week by an administrator concerned with faculty equity issues that I shouldn't be worried about cuts in the program. It's hard not to worry, though, given the closing of Girton Hall with no notice to parents and the dire nature of the UC and ECEP budgets. Please feel free to ask the moderator for my email so we can share what information we learn on this issue. Best wishes to you. another UC parent

UC Childcare Waitlists: what are my chances?

April 2008

Does anyone know how to determine their position on the wait lists for UC child care? We signed up while we were still pregnant, but UC tells me now (the baby is several months old) that they don't know my position on the wait list. This is confusing - can't they simply look at the list and tell us what number we are on it?

We're UCB staff, rather than students or faculty. We'd very much like our daughter to attend UC childcare, but not being able to find out whether we're at the bottom or the middle of some mythical wait list - even after we paid an application fee! - is rather maddening. Has anyone had luck with finding out their wait list position? UCB parent


It is hard to believe that the Berkeley child care center cannot determine your position on the wait list, as this is a very reasonable question.

In any case, what really matters to you is not your position on the list but rather your chances of your child getting in by a particular date or what the most likely date would be that your child would be admitted. This may difficult for the center to estimate with any accuracy, given that it depends on what dozens of other families with current and prospective enrollees decide, and may be why the center staff are unwilling to tell you anything specific. Even so, I think you deserve an answer to your question and I encourage you to persist.

For what it is worth, nearly three years ago I (Berkeley staff) applied for my then 1 year old to start UC Berkeley child care. About a year later they called and offered a spot. Of course, by that time I had already put a deposit on a preschool elsewhere, so Berkeley child care's offer was of no help at all. I don't know whether a year's wait is typical or not for staff, but that was my experience. I should also point out that they have opened a new facility in the interim and that may have increased capacity.

I wish you the best of luck.

David


I think there were some posts about this awhile back in the archives, it seemed to indicate that they will tell you. I don't work there so I can't speak w/ authority, but I can't see why they can't at least tell you where on that long list you're on, even if it's just position. Yes, there's a bunch of factors that affect your position and whether you're offered a place but hey, knowing if you're #20 vs #100 at least gives you an idea. Have you tried asking them to just give you a ballpark? Like, am I at the very bottom of a long list or top? Or, how big is the list, several hundred or under 100. Maybe asking them multiple choice questions rather than open ended ones will get them to open up.

In terms of waiting, I just got a call from them last week. I put my name on the list before my daughter was born (last May), and she was born in September. They called and asked if I was still interested for August placement. Not that they're offering one, just if I want to still be on the list. From all my phone calls with them, it sounds like it's very unlikely that any openings are available except in August.

Also, I just found out that next year's price will be $1675/month for full year childcare. And it's one price for both faculty/staff and students! I could not believe the cost. You'd have to make at least 60K on a single person's salary to afford this, and that's really stretching it. I really wish there was something we could do to advocate for better childcare on campus. anon


I've been on the waitlist for UC childcare twice - as staff, and as a student. It is the most frustrating experience, and I have given up ever getting a spot (my son is almost in preschool, and we signed up when I was pregnant). I have never been told where I am on the waitlist, and can't even get straight answers about the process. My husband and I would call and be told completely different things.

I hear this complaint all the time - and people who do get in say that they basically called repeatedly and suddenly a spot would materialize.

Until parents start complaining to the university administration about it, my guess is nothing will change. Sara


I started working as a staff member when my son was 1.5 years old. The campus care facility does not take children who are in diapers, there is a wait list of an undetermined amount of time and there was no way I could afford the cost of the care. So, I put my son in childcare at an off-campus facility across town (a community college). I waited only 2 months, they accepted children from 5 weeks up until they are ready to go to kindergarten, and were affordable. The care at this facility was the same as what I'd get at my campus' center. I have no idea why this is the way it is but I would have had a much better time if my son had been close to me during the day, I could have spend time in the pre-school room on some days, spent less time driving around town, and have supported a life for both myself and my son on the campus that I devote so much of my time and energy. Graduate students and faculty from my campus also used the facility at the community college as they too were not able to use the UC campus care for one reason or another. I am posting this so that more stories can be told on the issue of lack of care that matches the needs of those the UC center is trying to meet.
found another solution that worked mom
I am the Program Relations Manager at the UCB Early Childhood Education Program. I have read the concerns about our wait list, and will try to make our Admissions Process as transparent as possible. Some of this information is available, primarily in the FAQs sections, on our web site. When it is updated again, I can include additional information in an attempt to make the process more clear: http://www.housing.berkeley.edu/child/

It is true that we cannot give applicants a number on a wait list. It is also true that we have many more applicants than we can accept into our program. Yet, more children were admitted into our program between January and August 2007 than ever before. In addition to opening our brand new Haste Street Center last year, we added enrollment at some other centers. We currently serve 285 children in 21 classrooms - about 30 infants (3-10 months); 28 wobblers (11-23 months); 78 toddlers (24-32 months); 121 preschoolers (33-56 months); and 28 school age children. (Age range refers to the age at the most standard enrollment time - August.) As you can imagine, we cannot place the 'next on the list' in an available infant room space, if the 'next' is 3 years olds. We also must reserve spaces for children receiving subsidy from the State of CA. The wait list is fluid - acceptance calls can come anytime and 'out of the blue', as we will call the next ‘waiting list/eligibility list/age appropriate child’ applicant as soon as vacancies occur, at any time during the year. Every classroom is full now, but we are still in the admissions process for Fall 2008. Some parents will still decline spaces or change their mind about spaces offered for the fall. Calls for anticipated fall spaces are primarily made between late Feb - late April for staff/faculty, and May-July for students.

This fall we anticipate enrolling at least 61 new children. About 35 of these spots have already been offered to new staff/faculty families, and most of those remaining will be for students. As a result of so many young children accepted last year, our Haste Street Center is very impacted this summer and fall.

Currently we have more UCB staff & faculty families than student families. We serve UCB students, staff, faculty, post-docs and sometimes visiting scholars or staff & faculty from LBNL or other UC campuses. Non-subsidized applications are prioritized are based on:

1) Date of application (the earlier the better - but many come in before the child is born)

2) Parent UC Affiliation - Are one or both parents UCB students, staff, or faculty? Is the parent a visiting scholar or post-doc? (2 UCB staff/faculty/student parents have higher priority than 1 UCB parent; 1 UCB parent has higher priority than a parent who is a post-doc, visiting scholar, or who works at another UC campus.)

3) Is there a sibling enrolled in the program? Will that sibling still be enrolled next fall?

Our program receives State Dept of Ed. funds for children of qualifying low income UCB students. The admissions criteria for these students is mandated by the state, which is different than the admissions priorities for our non-subsidized families. While income and 'need for care' determine priority for subsidized spaces, date of application and UC affiliation determine priority for other applicants. (Applicants whose applications are deemed ineligible for subsidized care are automatically put in the non-subsidized category.) Of our 285 current spaces, about 105 are subsidized spaces.

We would like to hear feedback/suggestions about the non- subsidized admissions process (to be considered starting NEXT year). The current system was created years ago after hearing suggestions from parents in the program, applicant parents, staff and faculty. We can review it. For example: Should we only use 'date of application'? This would make it easier to answer the 'wait list questions'. But should a visiting scholar be 'equal' to a staff or faculty parent who has been on campus for 15 years? Is it fair to not consider both UCB parents if they both come to the same campus to work/attend school? Should we NOT prioritize siblings? (This is common practice in most child care centers. It is difficult for working parents to get to 2 or more places across town and pick up 2 or more children under the age of 5, by 5:30ish.) ECEP welcomes your suggestions regarding the Non-Subsidized admissions priorities. Our staff and Parent Advisory Committee will review them.

E-mail me at randice@berkeley.edu - or you may prefer to continue the discussion via UC Families randice roberts


The UCB early childhood education manager asked for feedback on whether/how the waitlist policies for UCB childcare should be changed. Here is my 2 cents. By way of background, my husband and I are both UCB grad students, and our kids are 4 and 2. We have both been students since before they were born. We placed both kids on the wait list within a few months of their births, and NEVER in 4 years did we receive a spot that was suitable. We were offered 3-4 spots over the years for 1 kid or another, but they were always either (1) part-time (we need full-time care) and or (2) excluded summer care (both our PhD programs require us to be present all day, every day, throughout the summer). All the spots also were more expensive than our current daycare, which is located in Berkeley. So, we recently decided to give up for good and take both kids off the list. All this is to say that I am a veteran of the childcare waitlists!

The explanations provided by the manager for how the waitlist is constructed by and large make sense and seem well-thought out. The reason that *so* many people are angry and upset about how the waitlist works is, ultimately, not about the specific policies but the fact that it takes so long. If the average wait were a matter of a few weeks or months, no one would care about the specifics of waitlist policies. So the problem is 90% waitlist length and 10% specific policies. What can we do about the length? More childcare is needed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let's assume that, in the short term at least, the program cannot grow to needed levels for budget reasons or whatever. In the meantime, here are some things that UCB can do to make the process more transparent for people. First, although I recognize why it's difficult for them to tell any given person what number they are on the waitlist, what they CAN do is provide information on the website about what the average waittimes are for broad categories of applicants (i.e., faculty, staff, and students, subsidized vs. unsubsidized). My first child was nearly 2 before we received our first opening. (And that was for a PT slot that we could not accept.) It should be easy to collect this data and make it available.

Second, the website could clarify what the income limits are for subsidized care. My husband and I never met this criteria even though we are both graduate students, although we didn't find this out until after submitting an application and detailed financial records. I suspect that there is only one, quite narrow category of people eligible to receive subsidized care - graduate students who are single parents. Although I agree that these folks should receive support, the website touts the subsidized option pretty heavily to the point where it misleads many people into thinking that UCB childcare is an affordable option, or at least that it is more affordable than other options. It's not.

Third, the website could provide information regarding, IN PRACTICE, how many people end up accepting a slot. Just tracking this information internally would provide them a lot of insight, I bet, into how well this program is working. I know a lot of grad student and faculty parents at UCB and only one person in my acquaintance (!!!) has both received and accepted a slot. Everyone else is either still waiting or found the program not able to meet their needs for the same reasons as me (FT care, summer care, and cost). My point is, the statistic having to do with how long people are on the waitlist (on average) is one important number, but another very important number is the likelihood that the spot will actually be useful to you by the time it is offered to you.

Fourth, and this is probably the most controversial point but the one I feel the most strongly about, UCB should stop advertising its childcare programs so heavily to new faculty and graduate students as a perk of coming to Berkeley. If this is a resource that is not actually accessible to typical people, then this type of advertising is misleading and disingenous. It's tantamount to suggesting to a new graduate student in the English department who makes $16K a year that s/he should come to UC Berkeley because you can buy a mansion in the Berkeley hills! Not on your life. It is simply not true to advertise to new recruits that UCB childcare is ''available'' to parents of young children. This leads me to the question of why UCB is in the childcare business in the first place. Unless they can achieve a critical mass of childcare slots such that they are actually meeting childcare needs for MOST people who want to use this service, it's unclear to me why they even offer it at all. It's like offering health insurance to only 5% of employees and saying that health insurance is a benefit of employment!

Bottom line, until the situation improves I think the childcare program specifically and the university in general could do a lot to be more honest and transparent about the actual availability, affordability, and utility of these programs.

Grad student mom


I just wanted to second the poster this week who said that the ECEP and the University need to be more forthright about the relative lack of childcare for students. I recently found out that there are only 25 student families who have unsubsidized child care spots. Keeping in mind that any family with two GSI salaries earns too much for a subsidized spot, this is a miniscule amount of child care in relation to need. I would love to find out how many families apply for UC childcare spots and never get them.

Also the ECEP recently announced that unsubsidized student rates are going up 60% next year, and those students will have to pay the full fee for UC childcare, which is higher than comparable centers in the area (and the same rate that staff and faculty pay). Currently, unsubsidized students pay well under market rates for care (and subsidized students pay almost nominal fees, or nothing at all).

So for those of us going on year 3+ of waiting for a spot, the affordability of those spots has now been eliminated.

So for all intents and purposes, unless you are a single parent or you can ''afford'' to be a student without working as a GSI/GSR in order to qualify for a subsidized slot, there is no university childcare assistance. A good place to start finding solutions might be for the university to admit the problem.

Disappointed


I would like to second the response of ''Grad student mom''. Her suggestions reminded me of how UC Village handles their wait list. The Village has a variety of bedrooms, plus some people get priority over others. However, their website lists the average wait time for each type of bedroom.

I think any type of wait time, total slots available at each school per category, or any statistical information is useful for applicants; especially since there is a $50 application fee. If I know that there's a total of 100 slots available from all the schools, and that there are 300 people on the waitlist, it helps me plan better. I might decide not to apply, or start looking at alternatives. Currently, whenever I've talked to people from the school, they make it seem like I have a good chance for placement, especially since I was encouraged to apply early. But from the stories that's been posted here, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Another suggestion I have is maybe to allow people to put themselves on a waitlist, similar to how UC Village does it, before they're pregnant or if they know they will be a future faculty/staff/student. Anon


Attached to this email is an article written by a colleague here at UCSD that might be of interest to your readership given all of the recent discussion about childcare. It is nice to know that there are a few supporters out there. Ajit has been a longtime supporter of women in science and continually speaks up about the lack of adequate daycare options which - as the mother of 2 boys - I greatly appreciate!

Moderator note: Here is a link to the article titled, “Addressing the Major Challenge for Women in Academia: It’s Proximate Childcare Stupid!”: /www.ascb.org/index.cfm?navid=81


Considering UC Berkeley preschool - Dec. birthday

April 2008

There may be an opening this fall for my 15 mo old son at UC Berkeley's Infant Toddler Center, in which case he would be ready for the Preschool program in Fall 2009. If your child is at the Harold E. Jones or Haste Street sites, I would be curious to hear your feedback about those programs. We like the play-based approach but want our son to have some ''academic'' exposure too. We have an added twist in that our son was born in December and cannot be enrolled in kindergarten until he is 5 yrs, 8 months. Since Harold E. Jones and Haste Street preschools only accept children for two years, we will have to either have to delay his enrollment at those preschools or enroll him in a different program when he is 4 yrs 8 mo. If you are in a similar situation, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


I am the Program Relations Manager for the UCB Early Childhood Education Program. I would like to provide some information regarding the 'twist' about December birthdates and preschool mentioned in the ''UC Berkeley Preschool'' posting. UCB has 8 centers, 5 of them have preschool rooms. The Harold E. Jones Child Study Center is the only center that has the 'two year enrollment limit'. This is due to research requirements, and it is also a means of guaranteeing a certain number of available spaces each year to new children. At our other centers, children are sometimes enrolled in preschool for 3 years. This usually happens when they are admitted before 2 years and 9 months. (They are not Kindergarten age after 2 years; will not be 5 years old by December 2). We do not allow children to stay a 3rd year because they are too young to enroll in a private school Kindergarten. A 3rd preschool year for children who will be 5 by Dec. 2 is offered only rarely at the UCB centers - when both parents and teachers agree that an 'age eligible' child is not developmentally ready for Kindergarten and would benefit with another year in a preschool setting. When a child stays an extra year, entry to a child on our long wait list is denied. randice roberts

Childcare Workgroup focus group - heard of it?

Feb 2008

I received an email today seeking grad/undergrad volunteers to participate in a Childcare Workgroup focus group that the Chancellor has appointed. Apparently it's a workgroup that will ''advise senior administration on policy and planning issues regarding childcare for members of the UC Berkeley community'', including faculty/staff/students. Has anyone heard about this? anon


I received the announcement through a number of sources. I assume it is an information-gathering session on what things work, what things don't and ideas for alternatives (specific to childcare?). I'm wondering if the discussion is big enough to handle parenthood in academia. Childcare is only one part of it: sick days, doctors appts, parent teacher conferences, special-needs kids and so on. There are so many aspects of parenting that are both uniquely supported by an academic career (for however short or long that is) or challenged by it. These things are also different across disciplines. Anyone know if this discussion is beyond just basic childcare discussion (like UC childcare), or if it is open to Child Care? Freyja
I am NOT the one spearheading these efforts, but if you are interested in being in contact with the person organizing this, get in touch with me and I'll send you her email. I don't think I should post her email on this forum without permission. K
I attended one of the work group meeting. It ended up being a general discussion about how UC can improve the resources avaliable to student parents at Cal. I got the following email that summarized the meeting and the progress so far on the project.
Several weeks ago we held focus groups to advise a work group set up by the chancellor on the needs, arguments, sources of money for, and policy problems with dependent care. The focus groups were a surprising success. We held total of 5, where one was composed of post-docs and one other of undergraduate student parents. We reported our findings in a very preliminary way to the work group (large themes of access issues, confusions about policies, suggestions for parent co-ops, drop in centers, sick child care) but will present the group with a written report at the next meeting which will take place in the last few days of April. I have also received excellent feedback over email. Thank you so much. Incidentally, the only piece that we reported which surprised the group was the desire for a parent co-op. The group expressed a preliminary interest. I will email you our report and let you know what happens in the next meeting. The first meeting, which was held a few weeks ago, was spent on introductions to the project and in figuring out what needs to be known in order to proceed & how this information can be obtained.

Another theme that emerged from our focus groups is that student parents were interested in organizing for advocacy and social events. For instance, there was a suggestion made that we can advance our interests through multiple channels simultaneously. One is by approaching the chancellor as students, but another is through having the union represent our interests as workers. There was also a suggestion made that we could communicate better with web based technology but I am weak in that whole sphere so I forgot what was the concrete suggestion. Here is the point. We have a club on paper, and therefore access to money. What we need now is leadership. Please email me if you can get involved or even if you have suggestions.


We applied a year ago - not sure where we are

Sept 2007

Hello, my name is Cynthia and I'm the wife of a Cal student. We are originally from the bay area and have been living in Oakland for the past five years. We have two children, one an infant and the other a toddler. I wanted to ask you all what your experience has been enrolling your child in the UCB child care system. We applied a year ago and we are not sure where we are on the waiting list. We were told to check in frequently with their staff. We are now trying to enroll our little girl who just turned four months. I figure you can never be too early in applying for child care at Cal! Any suggestion will help. Thank you all.


I am a doctoral student at Berkeley and I applied for UC Child care just after my son was born in April 2006. I was hoping he would get in for the fall 2006 start, but he wasn't accepted until just this year. He just started with UC Child Care two weeks ago. I spent last year calling every couple of months to check the status of my application and to make sure they knew that I was still interested in child care and waiting eagerly. They called in July to let me know that a part time child care opening was available. I would have liked full-time, but needed to take what I could get. I was told that we will be offered a full-time spot if one becomes available. In the meantime, my son is now in UC child care and I supplement with a nanny a couple afternoons a week to accomodate my teaching schedule. We love UC Child care, but the wait was a long one. Kristen

How likely am I to get a slot for my toddler?

April 2007

I am going to grad school at Cal this fall -- or, at least I will if I can find care for my toddler. I have applied for the Cal daycare but I know there's a waiting list. Can anyone tell me how likely/unlikely I am to get a slot? I mean, are we talking (like a local daycare) 300 applicants for six slots? Does anyone have any advice? Because I can't afford full-time care otherwise, and if no care, no grad school. Maya


Cal daycare has extremely limited slots, as far as I know. I tried a few years ago to get my daughter enrolled with no luck. I think faculty and staff get preference, then low- income students, then students with some sort of income. It's good you've applied, but I would keep checking with them about where you are on the list. And don't count on getting in.

There are schools that offer financial aid for low-income parents (probably in the archives you can find a list). There are lots of preschools around campus, so it might be worth calling around and finding out your options. Also, you could try to find a few other graduate student parents to create a parent co-op. Can be a great support system, as well as a child care option, if you can work out the schedule. there are also established co-ops that you might tap into. Lastly, family daycare can be less expensive than traditional preschool.

There's a Student Parent Project on campus, with resources for student parents. I would get in touch with them and explore your options for financial aid, childcare, and housing.

good luck! I'm really glad I stuck with grad school while my kids were babies...toddlers...preschoolers...and now I'm done! Melissa


Hi! I am the chair of the Parents Advisory Council for Cal Daycare. I can answer all the questions you might have about day care, especially what to do if you don't get in (which I didn't my first year). I am also a grad student, and when I started I also had a toddler (though now I have a slightly larger toddler AND a baby), and was terrified that I would have to quit school if i didn't get into Cal daycare. But, it's not that way. I planned as if I wouldn't get in, found a great stay-at-home mom in the village (family housing) who had a child the same age as mine. That helped fill some time before I did get in. My youngest also attended an off-campus subsidized center which we LOVED, until she got in at Haste St. Please email me with your concerns, and I can try to give you some perspective, about daycare and grad school with kiddos, if you want! Sarah

Cost comparison of UC Infant program

May 2007

Hi I'm a staff at UC and am currently researching infant childcare. I was wondering if someone has updated information regarding UC Childcare, its costs, vs other infant childcare around Berkeley/Albany area. Many people also highly recommend St Johns but I was unable to find info on its cost. My biggest concern right now is cost. $1500 per month is really high for me. thanks anon


I can chime in about part of your question. UC infant daycare costs for staff are $1577 a month at the new Haste street center. There are other centers on campus and I'm not sure how much they cost but the Haste one is brand new and extremely nice (all green building, no toxins in the carpets or paint, chamomile and mint planted with the grass to give kids a sensory experience, etc). Ellen Levitan handles staff placements for UC childcare and can give you a better sense of how long the wait would be for a UC staff spot: tel:(510)642-1827.

The Haste Center is pricey compared to other centers - I called all of the main Berkeley daycare centers a few weeks ago and this is the info I got on pricing for full time care:

Cedar St Center: 549-3989 $950
Model School: 549-2711 $1269
Cornerstone: 848-6252 $1628
Wooley Mammoth: 548-4779 $1180
St Johns: 549-9342 $1040
Aquatic Park: 843-2273 $1300
However all of them had about a 9 month waitlist! Bree

Getting 2 kids to 2 different campus childcare locations

April 2007

I'll be starting journalism school at Berkeley in the fall and I'm hoping my kids will be accepted at the UC childcare center. Assuming my two kids (1 and 3) get into UC childcare next year while I go to grad school, I'm trying to figure out how to get the kids and myself to school every morning. According to the folks I spoke with at the childcare center my kids will be in different locations (different ages and Haste St is for full-fee only). I was hoping to take public transportation to campus, but that seems pretty unlikely if I have to drop off two kids at two different places on my way to school. My husband is available to help -- he BARTs into the city each morning for work. How do people manage this? (Not sure where we'll be living either -- maybe Albany Village.) It seems like it would be too hard using public transportation, but if I drove, where would I park? sf


Don't get discouraged. You overestimate how hard it is with two kids... we (either I or my husband) do it every morning. We drop one on one side of the campus, then walk the other to her daycare on the other side. Then I go to class. We do all of this on the bus, as we sold our car a while ago because we didn't use it enough. Plus, whoever told you that Haste St. is full fee only might be a little off. They do have spots for subsidized care, but the squeaky wheel gets the grease. One of mine is there, and we don't pay a thing... but she had a sibling in the system (at a different site) so we had that advantage. Don't stress yet! It's easier than you think... mine are 3 and 1, not the easiest ages, but we make it work. They're great bus riders now! Plus, everyone on the bus in the morning has kids. If yours throw a tantrum, big deal. sarahm
We solved the problem with living within bike distance to the campus (close to El Cerrito Plaza actually) and get a pre-school close to our home. We have a bike trailer so I can drop off my 3 yr old son at the pre-school in Albany (he started there 2 1/2 years old) on my way to work. The bike trailer stays there and my wife picks him up after lunch or in the afternoon depending on his schedule. We looked also into childcare on campus, but I think it is much more convenient to have childecare close to home. When looking for a home check if childcare/pre-school, malls, a BART station or major bus lines, and may be a car sharing pod is close and that you can bike to campus. For us this is the case and we save a lot having no car and free exercise biking around town. RK
Hi, mama of 2, I'm a mama of one who is also going to start journalism school this fall. I have no advice, but am also hoping the Cal day care will take my daughter. I'll be commuting from San Francisco, which kind of scares me. I'm interested in making contact with other J-school mothers so e-mail me if you are interested. Maya
I don't know if you've gotten responses to this already, but there is a new childcare center on campus (Haste St. Child Development Center) that has care for 3 months - 6 years. Ideally, if you get your children into care they can both be at the same site. There is a parking lot adjacent to the building. It's about a 15 minute walk from the building to North Gate. anon

Lack of childcare: Is Berkeley really "family friendly"?

May 2006

Before my son was born we put him on the waiting list for on-campus childcare, hoping that maybe there would be a slot for him sometime during the first year, and that we could get a subsidy of some kind. I’ve since heard from many other parents that the chance of getting into one of the centers is limited. The campus seems to have only around 100 spaces or something – for all student, staff, postdoc, and faculty families! I have heard that a new child care center is currently being built but I think it will only serve around 50-75 children and I don’t know how families will be chosen.

If Berkeley is as “family friendly” as it keeps saying why doesn’t the administration come up with some kind of workable solution to support those of us who work hard for the university but don’t earn very much?

I saw that at Stanford there is a “Child care subsidy grant program” which gives up to $5k per year to staff and faculty for child care expenses ( http://worklife.stanford.edu/docs/pdf/ChildCareGrantProg-2006.pdf ). It is based on income, and even provides $1k for staff or faculty earning up to $125k per year! Under this program my spouse and I would be eligible to receive $4k per year toward our expenses, which would be a TREMENDOUS help.

I am sure that a subsidy program would be expensive but wouldn’t it also make UCB a very attractive employer?? (And I just saw that a decision was recently made to give each faculty who earns tenure a $6k bonus in addition to whatever salary increase they also get). Anon.


UC Berkeley Childcare - Time Your Baby Right!

April 2006

This is a message for all grad student prospective parents trying to figure out when is the best time to have a baby with the least disruption to your studies. If you want to use the UC Berkeley Childcare program, make sure you DON'T have your baby in Fall. The Berkeley program only admits infants of certain ages (older than 3 months at start of Fall semester, older than 7 months at start of Spring), which means that if you have a baby in the Fall, you will not qualify until the following Fall. What is more, as we are currently learning, you probably won't get in the following Fall because those already in the program have priority, and the program is heavily over subscribed. My partner and I are both international grad students who earn step 1 or 2 GSR rates and we are being told there is a good chance our daughter won't get in this coming Fall. Who is the UC Childcare supposed to be for if not families like ours? ais


Asked to review UC childcare for external review

Dec 2003

I received a letter in the mail yesterday indicating that UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Affairs is conducting an external review of the University's childcare program, where my child is a student. I have been at times very satisfied with my child's care, and at times have been less than thrilled with how staff have handled situations that have arisen (some that have involved our family, and others that have not). I am also aware of some unfortunate incidents that have happened at some centers, and of some even more unfortunate alleged incidents that others have claimed have occurred at the centers. Parents are being asked, in the letters they receive, to provide feedback via an online survey AND in person at a group meeting/interview.

My questions are: 1)How honest should we be at those meetings about our satisfaction with the centers? Is my disgruntlement enough to complain about to a serious external review committee? Will this cost someone their job?

2)If I do complain about things (our family's complaints regard nothing illegal, mind you, but others' complaints have), can they really keep my identity secret from the staff? What about incidents in which they could surely identify our family. How would they do that and address the issues? Do I risk repurcussions if I am totally honest about what I think?

3) How happy or unhappy are other parents with UC Berkeley childcare? Has anything happened which has caused you to sour on the system in general? The administration of ECE at the university? Your particular childcare center? Do you feel your child is treated with dignity and respect even when you are not around?

I am having a tough time with this, as I have had some really intense disagreements with our daycare providers, but I guess I don't necessarily want them to be fired. What I want is for the system to change so it takes parent input seriously, and to be more accepting of individual differences between kids and differences between families.It does seem as though two-parent families who have quiet, obedient children are ''preferred'' or are treated more warmly than, perhaps, some single parent families I know of (this is especially true if the single parent family has a more difficult kid). It is a bit of a shame--I would like to see the system be more compassionate to the students who are working so hard to balance family and student life.

It does appear that the external review committee that the University has assembled boasts some very well-qualified people- scholars in Social Welfare, Family issues, finance, etc., so I am not worried per se about the reviewers' qualifications. The big picture question is, Is this review going to help with these goals, or hurt? I just thought I would throw this out there to the many wise people who often post on this wonderful service. anonymous, please


Please be honest in your interviews. I think if you explain the facts of the disagreements, that will not necessarily get someone fired, especially if you are the only one having the disagreement. I don't think parents have that much power! But if many parents have the same concerns, it may cause a change of policy. I would guess it's much more likely to be given as feedback at staff meetings than for individuals to be fired unless they did something negligent and it was confirmed by other parents. So don't worry about causing someone to lose their job!

On the other hand, if you don't speak the truth, real problems may be covered up and nothing will change. Also, other parents may suffer if that happens. So you owe it to your child and the children of others to tell the truth as you see it. believer in honesty


My child was in the UC childcare system for 3 years, and I wish I had the opportunity that you have now, to voice your opinion formally in a long overdue investigation of their childcare system. Our experience was much like yours. We were dissatisfied with various aspects of their care, but none of it would have qualified as criminal. Of course, that didn't inspire confidence of how my own child was being treated when we weren't there. One of the biggest problems I observed was the lack of consistency from center to center. My child had a great first year in the system, and then two barely tolerable years in the older class. ALL the parents I knew felt the same way, but felt like they had little recourse and no options within the system. It is near impossible to have your child transfered to another center. Many parents complained about various issues, and received, without exception, empty reassurances that it would be ''looked into''. We were also concerned about the safety/ well-being of our child if the providers knew of our complaints. In your case, you are being asked, as I assume all parents are, for your opinion. Is it possible to do so anonymously? Ultimately, like many other parents, we stayed because it would have been very difficult to go elsewhere, there were no instances of serious neglect/ abuse (at least that we knew of) towards our child, our group of kids and parents was truly wonderful and a great source of support, and finally, and I can't emphasize this enough, the student assistants were remarkable, often supplying the only sense of comfort and warmth in that environment. I would name the center that my child attended, but I feel it may be inappropriate for this forum. I would advise you for the sake of your child, the many who have been there, and the many more yet to come, to be as sincere as possible in your response. Whether or not people get fired should not be your concern, as that may be the correct solution in some cases. This sounds like it may be your chance to be heard, in a way that many of us were not, and hopefully contribute to a positive change. Best of luck to you and your family anonymous, please
First please know that it is pretty difficult to get ''fired'' from UC Berkeley. Those employees are pretty protected. A survey is designed to fix what's broken and so if there are some policies or practices that you would like to see changed, this is your chance to see that happen. Your response will not hold enough weight, according to your post, for anyone to be fired as a result of what you say. Please still fill it out and get your voice heard; plus it's an evaluation tool. They probably have grant money to run the center and are required to survey the parents. That's probably all that VC Padilla wants from you. Anonymous
If someone is not doing a good job, and doesn't respond to constructive criticism, they don't belong in that job! If a person gets fired as a result of the review, it won't be because of just one parent's comments.

I suggest, in addition to attending the meetings, that you submit a letter to the committee and sign it with your name and contact info. Express your concern about anonymnity and possible repercussions. Address your own experiences fully but succinctly, don't write about things you have heard about indirectly, and encourage other people to do the same. Take advantage of this opportunity for input. anon


Dear Anon,

I cannot evaluate all of the U.C. Childcare, because my child has only been in the Girton/Clark Kerr track. I have heard that there may be differences between this track and the Annahead Track, but I will not comment on things I do not have all of the facts on. Therefore, I will tell you about my expirience as a single parent in the system to which I pertain.

I am extrememly pleased with the quality of care that my daughter has recieved at these centers. Her teachers are not only expirienced but also truely seem to enjoy the children. When my daughter was in Girton, she went through an extremely hard time given that it was her first time in childcare and Pat worked really hard to help her adjust as did Precilla and Eli. She was also lucky to have a great set of student assistants that would hold her every nap time. I feel I have to especially credit Ariel who seems to have a way with putting kids at ease.

At Clark-Kerr the teachers are outstanding as are the student assistants. The teachers not only provide a good environment for the kids, but also prepair activities that guide their development in order to prepair them for Kindergarten. In fact, a montessori school we were looking at for Kindergarten, thought she went to a montessori preschool because she was so used to doing developmental activities.

As far as your concerns about whether or not they take parent input seriousely: Any time I have ever had a concern, I have voiced it to my childs teachers and they have always followed through, spoken to the children--- if it is a situation that includes them, and really dealt with the matter in a very positive professional way. However, I also don't have unrealistic expectations either. They are not soley responsible for dealing with my child's behavior or those of other children at the school. In order for them to be successful, I as the parent, have to follow through at home as well. If my child behaves well, it is because this is an expectation I set for my child and reinforce with positive and negative outcomes. I am a single parent and we have gone through some horrible times, with very little support at times, but I still expect that my child listens to her teachers and treats others with respect and when my child doesn't there are consequences. My child understands that that when I pick them up I talk to the teachers to find out about the day and what occured and how my child treated others. My childs teachers can count on me to support them as much as I can count on them to support me and perhaps this is why I have had such a good expirience.

Oftentimes, as students we can get overwhelmed with everything that the University throws at us and parenting one child can be overwhelming, especially because it is usually at these hard times that our children act out the most. If one is hard imagine 20. Caring for twenty children all with different parents that have different views about participation and discipline is extrememly difficult because there are children who get away with all sorts of behaviors simply because they can. And let me tell you as a parent who tries to spend as much time as possible at the center, that your children can act very differntly at school than at home.

So in regards to your level of honesty at these meetings I think that you should take a good look at what these people provide for you and what you have given back in return. If they have made mistakes, please consider them in context as you would for yourself. Don't be too quick to judge them, stop to think about your childs behavior (you mentioned that the child was difficult) and whether you have done your part to try to support the teachers with this problem and followed through at home. If you feel that you have and you feel that as providers they are still lacking, or perhaps not enjoying the children like they should or not acting appropriately, then you should voice your oppinion... Otherwise things will remain the same.

Satisfied U.C. Childcare Parent


Affordable Infant Care Near UC?

June 1999

This is SORELY lacking, almost to the point of being a crime. When I told other folks (off campus, and/or in other states) that no such thing existed for staff, no one would believe me. Certainly if such a facility existed, I would have been happy to check it out. But for me, it would have to be more flexible than the current one at the Child Study Center, which as I recall does not accept part time kids, and doesn't accept infants at all. On the other hand, ANYTHING would be better than the near complete lack of service that we as staff see now. If there's a petition to sign, I'd sign it, even though by the time anything would happen it would be far too late to serve me. But I'd gladly help other people to avoid the stress I went through!


i, I work at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab since two years now. Frankly I was surprised when I realized no such facility was already available for UCB staff. It would be great to have one managed by UCB! We will be looking for Infant care in probably 6~8 months from now. I know nothing about the same facility available for students. I cross fingers this will really be a reality in the near future: I would expect outstanding quality and management as well.
I do not have any immediate recommendations, but I will be looking for infant care myself, probably in another eight months. I would be very much interested in an affordable infant care program for faculty and staff and would be more than happy to work with other parents (and with the Child Care Services Office) to "lobby" for such a facility at the Chancellor's house or elsewhere on campus. (Since reading a mention of the possibility in the Berkeleyan a while back, I haven't heard anything else about the status of this plan.)
I would be very interested in additional UC daycare opportunities. The existing system allows only 6 infants into the program per year. Needless to say it is very competitive, and preference is given to those who can least afford daycare. While I believe that is a good way to do it, there are some like me who are right on the line and cannot get daycare through the university because they are not quite poor enough, but are not rich enough to afford daycare outside. My wife will start work again in a few weeks, working by day (with baby at night) and I will have to do my best to conduct my research at night (with baby during the day). Not a great way to live, but the only affordable alternative available for us here. Thank goodness one of us has a flexible schedule!

Info from the Director of University Child Care Services

[Note: a few weeks ago there was a discussion on the list about childcare facilities on campus. Many people were confused about what's available, including me. I wrote to Peter Jacobson who is the director of University Child Care Services. His reply is below. --Ginger]

Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 11:14:44 -0700
To: Ginger Ogle From: Peter Jacobson
Subject: Re: UCB Parents mailing list info

Ginger,

Thank you for the note, and I am glad to clear up any confusion about the child care services available for faculty and staff as best I can. The answers appear directly below each question that you posed. Please stay in touch if you have further questions.

Peter Jacobson
Director, Child Care Services

>Dear Peter,
>I administer a mailing list for campus parents as well as the UC
>Berkeley Parents web server at http://parents.berkeley.edu
>
>Recently there has been a discussion on the mailing list about
>university child care for staff. About 75% of the 325 parents on my list
>are campus staff. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what, if
>anything, is offered to staff in the way of childcare.  For example, one
>parent wrote:
>        "I was under the impression for a long time that UCB
>        childcare is not available to staff. That is not entirely
>        true, though you certainly would think so from looking at
>        their brochures and application forms, which requests
>        things like reg card number but not employee information."
>
>I did recently come across the Child Care Services Web page at
>http://housing.berkeley.edu/child/child.html, which I plan to link to
>from the UCB Parents web page and also tell my mailing list about. But I
>would like to get a little more info from you that I can pass on to the
>parents on my list.  Could you answer these questions for me?
>

>- Is the Child Study Center the only facility open to staff?

While this is generally true, ocassionally space in the other programs
becomes available if there are no student families on our waiting list for
those services. For instance, next academic year, we are advertising for
staff and faculty children, kindegarten through third grade, for our
Afterschool Program at Clark Kerr Campus.  This is due to low enrollment at
the present time. We will enroll faculty and staff children on a space
available basis, once all student families have been offered care and
enrolled.


>- If there are others, which ones?

See above. On other rare ocassions, we may take other children from faculty
and staff families on a space available basis.

>- How and when should parents enroll their children in the Child Study
>Ctr?

The applications are available year round, by calling 642-7031, ask for
Randi or Maria.  They are logged in upon receipt. We do our admissions
process in January and February for the following August.  If vacancies
occur, we do fill them on an on-going basis.

>- What is the University Preschool?

This is the true and most recent name for the Child Study Center programs.
Most campus folks still think of this program as the Child Study Center,
which has been its traditional name for many years.

>- Does the Child Study Center operate year round?

Yes. There is a short break in August for clean-up, planning and
orientation of new families.

>- Do the other centers operate year round?

No. We do not receive State or Registration Fee funding to operate during
the summer period. We are generally closed in the student program from
approximately June 1 through August 14 each year.

>- Is part time care available at any of the staff centers?

No, given the intense demand for full time care, this has not been a
priority for us.

>- Is any childcare available to staff for children under 3?

Not at this time. However, we are working hard to plan a small program for
toddler aged children of faculty and staff as part of our long term
planning. The hard part is finding subsidy for the cost of running a
toddler program.  Absent a subsidy, the amount of parent fee that we would
have to charge would exceed the capabilities of most parents. The space
issue is also difficult, but not nearly as difficult as securing subsidies
for lower income staff.

>- Are there any afterschool childcare programs for staff?

See above. There is space for the 1996/97 academic year, and interested
parents should apply by calling 642-1827 for an application.

>
>If the Child Study Center is the only staff facility, and enrollment is
>limited to 48 three and four year olds, then that would mean that only
>24 slots are available each year to staff children. Is this situation
>likely to change anytime soon?  Are there any plans to expand childcare
>facilities for staff?

A small expansion for eight children that will include access for staff and
faculty children is planned. I will let you know as our planning continues
to develop in this area.  Sometime during 1997 , depending upon space
availability, we may be able to open such a program.

General Comments

Date: Mon, 24 Jun 1996 14:59:53 -0700

I was under the impression for a long time that UCB childcare is not available to staff. That is not entirely true, though you certainly would think so from looking at their brochures and application forms, which requests things like reg card number but not employee information.

What I have been told is that it's open to students, faculty, and staff, but that students get the priority. Also, some openings are subsidized and some are not; as a working person, you will probably not qualify for the subsidized spots, but the competition is less for the full-fee spots.

The biggest problem with UCB child care is that it's only open during the academic year, so if you work year-round, you will be searching for child care during big blocks of the summer, winter holidays, and spring break. To me, this was the single factor that made it not worthwhile.


Date: Mon, 24 Jun 96 15:08:05 PST

... And I agree with you about the University ... they need to enter the 90s and start providing good childcare for staff BEFORE the babies turn 3! (I understand that age 3, children of staff are eligible for UC childcare.)


What are my Chances for Getting into UC Childcare?

June 1999

Is there anyone who could give me some tips and help me speculate as to the chances of getting my son into UC childcare this Fall? I already applied, was told that I am on waiting list as #11, and that I could not know where I stood until July. Since I need an answer sooner, are there any parents/staff out there who can answer the following questions? 1. Realistically, how likely is #11 to get in? He'll be 1 year old in August.
2. On their sliding scale, what is the formula they use, so I can calculate costs and compare to my alternative arrangements?
3. I applied as subsidized (I am a GSI) and unbelievably they put me on unsubsidized w.l. What is the income cutoff, and/or see question 3?
4. Other comments?
Basically, I need to reach a decision soon as to what we are going to do (stay with our shared sitter at FT $940, or not) and I just don't have the elements to do so. Thanks anyone who can shed at least tenuous light on this very frustrating problem.


To me your chances of getting in seem small. Here's why: I believe there are only 7 spots for all UC students with "wabblers" (children who will turn one between June and November). (I could be wrong: there used to be spots in childcare at Albany village too, but I think it's now closed.) You could count on some people dropping out of UC childcare but I do know of two who are admitted and will NOT be dropping out.

On the other hand, I think this is worth your persistence. The infant/toddler center and the wabbler room are excellent. My daughter did not get in the first time we applied, but after we dropped our income for 3 down to $1300/month we did get in totally subsidized. She was then 18 mos. old, and went into the wabbler room. This year our income was $1450/ month for three and we were still totally subsidized.

I remember being was so frustrated with the mysteriousness and unfairness of the admission processs. I didn't even get a waitlist number. I could not call to ask about my status without crying, so I gave up. Perhaps the "squeaky wheel gets the grease" in this situation, but be very careful not to offend. Good Luck!


You need to call them frequently, constantly inquiring about your status (once a week.) The childcare centers are excellent, but the administration seems always bogged down, and we think this helped us keep our child in the front of their minds.

2. Cost - we were completely "unsubsidized", and it cost us $13.75 (approx.) per day for four hours - cheaper than anything else that we could find, including day care centers, group day cares, and family day cares. If you factor in the hot meals that they provide, I don't think you can beat the value.

3. Unsubsidized may be easier to get into, so this might not be such a bad thing.


Getting into UC Childcare:

Remember that the time, i.e. how long you have been on the waiting list is
completely irrelevant to your ranking.  The factors are, not necessarily in
this order nor exhaustively listed:

- both parents, if two parent family, must be occupied full time
  (recognized "training," work, or actively seking work- in latter case, one
  or two months are given).  Note too that these occupation musr be daytime
  ones,
- one parent must be registered as student (remember that parents are
  allowed half time student-status, in which case that parent needs another
  half time occupation).

Now for the tricky part:
- having siblings for the child who you are trying to place, that is, I
  guess, if you have two or more children to place, gives you some priority.
  Also, a new born whose sibling is already at a UC center has some priority,
- LOW INCOME.  The key, in my experience to GETTING IN.  Here a principle I
  learned as an independant undergrad w/ financial aid applies:  it pays to
  make yourself dirt poor for one semester.  That can help you get in, most
  likely fully subsidized: anyone in top ranking on list is bound to be
  taking in very little money, or at least, to state so on the application
  ... In this situation,having rich parents, say, who can buy you that car
  you desperately need, helps a great deal: in addition to getting a freebie,
  you don't have to generate the income to buy it yourself, and that would
  have put you at an unsurmountable disadvantage in the ranking.

Unfortunately, moreover, UCB Child Care Services has a huge
drawback, that the same office at another UC doesn't: they count loan money
as income.  You see, after I had lost my TAship elsewhere, my income in
their eyes went to zero even though I took out a loan, the cost of which
will be mitigated both in dollars and mostly, in saved stress, by having
had my son taken into the daycare thanks to this apparently adverse
situation.  A key thing to remember is: ONCE YOUR CHILD IS ACCEPETD INTO UC
CHILDCARE HE/SHE IS IN FOR GOOD if you maintain student status and full
time occupation, regardless of whether you become a millionaire afterwards.
The latter situation would simply modify your fees once you apprise the
office of the change.

Finally, in my experience, like everything on our campus, the full time
requirement can be made to be widely interpreted or stated.  I don't think
that all parents of all the children in UC childcare centers are always
officially "occupied" 40 hrs a week ...

Persistence, a polite phone call once every two weeks, is always good.
Also, talk to people and gather as much info on how the whole system works.
We had our son ranked #13 when he was 2 1/2 in the fall, and he was
accepted in the spring.  I don't remember our (3 person family) income
then, but it was about what a GSI makes. Good luck!

July 1999

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