In their fight to secure childcare benefits for Long Beach State employees, faculty and staff parents successfully passed a resolution through the Academic Senate during their meeting on April 27.
The resolution urged CSULB to provide “older adult care on or near campus for all faculty, staff, and students” and was written after the university failed to provide alternative childcare when the Child and Family Center announced its closure January 3.
The CFC is the only on-campus childcare center for university employee parents, and the impact of its closure by June 30 has left dozens of faculty and staff looking to find alternative childcare by the summer.
Two on-campus summer camps, the Academic Enrichment Camp and Young Artists Camp, recently announced in late April they would not be open this summer, which became another “unexpected” blow for university faculty and staff parents, according to Kirstyn Chun, a former CFC parent.
“This also means that faculty and staff parents already reeling from the CFC closure were unable to enroll 5-year-old children in the other back up campus child care options,” Chun said.
Brian Coriaty, the associate director of Club Sports & Recreation, cited rising labor costs as one of the reasons why these camps would be closed this summer. The camps “only served a handful of on-campus families,” Coriaty said in an email and it was “no longer practical to generate the financial support for our clubs and organizations.”
A draft resolution was first presented at the Academic Senate meeting on April 20, when both faculty and staff parents argued why the university needed to better provide for its employees and understand the impact of its decisions.
“[Childcare] is something faculty and staff need and have benefited from on our campus,” said Lori Baralt, chair of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, at the meeting. “That’s why we decided to make a resolution.”
Childcare is not a listed benefit for CSULB employees, but has become a crucial source of both recruitment and retainment when hiring on new faculty and staff at the university. While the sudden lack of child care does not violate any contracts, its overall effect has created a decline in morale in the university’s employees.
“The means by which they did this showed a clear lack of empathy and understanding for what it means to interrupt a daycare for people who are relying on it,” said Yousef Baker, an associate professor of the International Studies Department and CFC parent.
Both faculty and staff have attested to the importance of reliable childcare in order to perform well in their work for the university. Baralt described childcare as a “vital service for faculty and staff.”
“It allows us to serve our students, teach our classes, do our research,” Baralt said.
When new faculty are hired, one of the first questions they ask is about the childcare situation, according to Baralt. The CFC is answered as the “hidden gem” on campus which not only prioritized their children, but offered high quality care.
“The impact for me, personally, is the incredible amount of stress and anxiety that this has caused,” Baker said. “It’s an eviction notice that was unexpected.”
Summer is a crucial time, according to both faculty and staff, for university employees to either commit to research for their field that qualify them for promotion, or, for advisors, help students transition into the fall semester and figure out their course schedule.
“For the advising world, summer is actually our peak season,” said Jason Deutschman, the associate director of academic advising for the College of Engineering. “If I have to take a leave or extended time off, then that means all of that extra work falls on my staff.”