This month the University of New Orleans sent out a notice, saying its child daycare facility would close December 20. The reason given? It loses money, at a time when the university is facing severe budget cuts. That leaves 81 children in need of new child care options.
At dusk, parents descend on the UNO lakefront campus to collect their little ones from daycare. But a few weeks ago, they lingered — to browse brochures for different child care. Word was out, the UNO Children’s Center was closing.
“It breaks our hearts, you know?”
Abha Goyal says while she finished her Ph.D. at UNO, the daycare gave her a place to take her daughter. The two-year old girl would miss her best friend at the center, her mother said. Goyal and her husband were shocked at the announcement.
“They didn’t even ask us, you know? There was not even a hint of the center closing up.”
The center has been serving 81 children, infants to four-year-olds. Shopping alternatives, parent Sandra Cevedra did not see one she liked.
“A lot of places only have three spaces. A lot of places can’t take my four-year-old but can take my two-year old, so there are a lot of places that have to be eliminated as options for me.”
Cevedra, like many parents, praised the diversity of the center as something she would greatly miss.
UNO has offered daycare at the Children’s Center for more than 20 years. University spokesman Adam Norris says its operating budget is $800,000, and it’s been running a deficit of $200,000. In the past five years, he says the state has cut UNO’s overall budget by $22 million.
"In this climate of reduced state support the university really has to focus on its core mission of teaching and conducting research. While we certainly would have liked to have continued to provide child care services to our faculty, staff and students, operating the center was just too costly."
A group has formed to try to save the UNO Children’s center, or at least extend it to the end of the academic year. It's submitted a proposal to UNO, with a request that the university respond this week.