Image over impact

Moving the child care center fails to account for the student-parents it serves

Katie Bullock, Editor-in-chief

By removing the school-age child care center from Winnetonka in an effort to preserve a good community image, the district has also removed many of the center’s most positively impactful features for student-parents and their children.

When the child care center was located at Winnetonka, student-parents had more opportunities throughout the school day to interact with their children. Student-parents could play with their kids or read to them during Advisory or Tonka Time. During lunch, student-parents could also eat with their kids. This parental contact is indispensably valuable to young children.

One study by John Ermisch and Marco Francesconi of the Institute for Social and Economic Research showed the negative impacts of young children spending little time with their parents. In the study, it was found that children – especially preschool aged children – who spent less time with their mothers had less educational achievement and a higher risk for unemployment and psychological distress later in life.

Additionally, the move makes it harder for new student-parents to adjust to a school-centered day. When the child care center was at Winnetonka, student-parents were able to drop by the nursery and check up on their kids at any time. Without the ability to do that, many new parents are likely to struggle with the process of going back to school since they will suddenly be spending much less time with their children.

The child care center was moved to Doolin this August after parents of Winnetonka students came forward last spring with concearns that the center was impacting Winnetonka’s image in a negative way. Although the district should be commended for taking such quick action to address those parent concerns, they addressed the issue in a way that neglects to advocate for the students they serve.

Now, in order to give student-parents more time with their children at Doolin, the district should create a class focused on teaching parenting skills scheduled either first block or last block so that parents can spend mornings or evening with their children before arriving to or after leaving school.

As a school district, the goal should be to educate. As such, they should have addressed the image issue by educating the community about the positive impact of the child care center instead of just sweeping the center under a rug and hoping that the community thinks of it as ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind,’ now that it is removed from Winnetonka.