CONTACT: CHARLES S. DRUM
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0048; fax (319) 384-0024
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Release: June 23, 1999
UI study shows effects of child care on work of staff,
student, faculty parents
IOWA CITY, Iowa - The results of a recent University
of Iowa child care survey confirm what many parents already know too well:
home and family issues strongly affect performance on the job and in the classroom.
The survey went to nearly 6,000 UI faculty, staff,
undergraduate, and graduate student parents with children under 15. "The availability
of child care has an impact on the ability of staff and faculty to accomplish
their goals at work," says Jennifer Modestou. "And it affects the academic
success of student parents."
Modestou chairs the UI Family Issues Charter Committee,
which carried out the survey last spring in partnership with the UI Family
Services Office and the Iowa Social Science Institute. "This survey is part
of the university's ongoing effort to make UI a good place for families,"
Modestou explains. "What we've learned reinforces the importance of child
care to families. The survey also gives us new insight into their child care
Students reported feeling the greatest negative effects
as the result of child care problems. Nearly half of undergraduates who responded
and one third of graduate students reported moderate to serious effects on
productivity because of problems associated with child care. Faculty and staff
reported negative effects as well, but fewer than the students.
Current UI child care programs get good marks in the
survey, but the university needs to do more to inform parents about its child
care resources, says Modestou. "We have many good programs, but people often
don't know they exist," she says. Each year, more than 255 children attend
child care centers located on the UI campus. Currently about 75 UI graduate
students receive child care stipends each year.
National data shows that for a family making less
than $15,000 a year, child care consumes 25 percent of every paycheck, Modestou
says. "So it is no surprise that UI parents call for better strategies
to help low income parents with child care. UI parents would also like to
see more flexibility at work. Flex-time and flex-place employment can help
parents deal with the demands of job and family."
Another priority identified in the report is to develop
strategies to help students and staff with temporary care for their children
who are ill. Additional emergency sick leave days would help staff care for
mildly ill children, the report concludes, and an "excused absence" policy
would accomplish the same for students who must miss class to care for sick
Other priorities indicated by the respondents include
greater availability of infant care, increased funding for child care stipends
for students, and additional after-school programs for older children.
"The results of this survey are important," says Jane
Holland, Family Services Coordinator for the university. "The survey results
give us insight into what we can do to help parents succeed, and to make university
child care programs a better resource for all our families."
The survey and its recommendations will now go to
the UI department of human resources. Following review, the Family Services
Office will work with the Family Issues Charter Committee to recommend an