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Week of August 15, 2011

President’s child care initiative meets major goals

In 2005 President Mary Sue Coleman launched the U-M Child Care Initiative with the goals of increasing child care capacity, broadening opportunities for infant and toddler care, and improving university’s child care facilities. That vision now is a reality with the consolidation of five Ann Arbor campus centers into three state-of-the-art children’s centers, providing U-M faculty, staff and students with flexible care options for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

Since 2005 U-M Child Care and Education programs have increased infant (0-18 months) care capacity by 150 percent, toddler (18 months-2.5 years) capacity by 53 percent, and preschool (2.6-5 years) capacity by an additional 10 percent. School-age summer camp program capacity has increased 50 percent. Overall capacity of the Ann Arbor centers has increased by 32 percent.

“All of our centers are now open for operation and enrolling new families,” says Jennie McAlpine, director of the U-M Work Life Resource Center, which oversees the operation of the Child Care and Education program.

Major milestones along with the way have included the 2010 opening of the Towsley Children’s House on South Forest Avenue, a sleek, 22,000-square-foot, light-filled building designed by architect David Osler. Built on the site of the former Pound House and the U-M Children’s Center for Working Families, the Towsley Children’s House serves infants, toddlers and preschoolers with full day programs. The center is named for Margaret Dow Towsley, a local philanthropist who ran a nursery on the site for more than 50 years before donating it to the university.

Towsley Children’s House, 710 South Forest Ave., serves infants, toddlers and preschoolers with full day programs. It is one of three state-of-the-art children’s centers serving U-M faculty, staff and students. Photo courtesy Integrated Design Solutions LLC.

In July of 2011, the U-M Children’s Center and Northwood Child Development Center combined their 50 years of early childhood experience by merging their operations to become the North Campus Children’s Center, located in the North Campus Research Complex. The new North Campus Children’s Center serves children from three months to five years of age and provides faculty, staff, students and members of the community at large with a variety of full-day, half-day and part-time care options.

Over the last several years, the Health System Children’s Center and the North Campus Children’s Center have undergone major renovations to improve facilities, add capacity, and expand care options for infants and toddlers.

All of the centers provide opportunities for university faculty and students to observe, participate and conduct research, and for students to complete their practicum experience to receive their degrees in early childhood education.

Towsley Children’s House and the Health System Children’s Center also provide summer camp programs for school-aged children.

“Many people worked together to bring these goals to fruition, including parents and families, teachers, center directors, administrators, architects, construction, grounds, maintenance, researchers and support staff. They are all to be congratulated for their teamwork and dedication in making the University of Michigan Child Care and Education program the very best it can be,” McAlpine says.

As part of the consolidation, the U-M Early Childhood Programs name has changed to Child Care and Education programs and the program’s website has been redesigned to better meet the needs of families seeking care. Administrative operations for all of the centers now are managed by University Human Resources.

Associate Vice President for Human Resources Laurita Thomas celebrates the accomplishments of the initiative.

“High-quality, on-campus child care is extremely important for recruitment and retention of faculty and staff and is an essential part of our commitment to helping working families at the university to achieve work/life balance,” Thomas says. “Now we will focus on expanding summer camp and elementary school-age services during the school year to help working families.”



Mary Bagwell, laundry feeder folder, U-M Health System Laundry Services, on the key to great spaghetti: “You add a little bit of sugar or a little bit of mint to take out the bitterness.”


William Faulkner’s Artifacts of Authorship exhibit, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Special Collections Library

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