By Joseph Barrios

Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA parents have been anxiously waiting for the university to take its "first steps" in establishing a child care facility on campus.

They may not have to wait much longer.

Vice Provost Martha Gilliland said a University of Arizona child care steering committee will write the final draft of a job description today for a coordinator to start getting these services on campus. The committee hopes the position will be filled by the end of May, Gilliland said.

The initiative is based on a Jan. 7 report prepared by Emilia Arana, program coordinator for the Office of Academic Affairs, which included key recommendations regarding child care at the university.

The report surveyed about 600 employees who currently use child care. About half of those employees reported having problems with child care that affected their work responsibilities, while 57 percent reported having their work affected by someone else's child care problems.

Recommendations include appointing the permanent coordinator with an accompanying budget, a statement of the UA's mission regarding child care, and the establishment of a child-care facility close to the UA.

"It was apparent we needed to move forward on a number of fronts," Gilliland said.

She said the coordinator position will look into creating a partnership with private businesses near campus and increase already-existing referral services to UA parents.

"I think we'll have a lot of these referral-type programs by the fall," Gilliland said. "We might even be doing some summer-type things."

The Jan. 7 report also recommended the construction of a facility on campus that would hold 80 to 100 children from birth age to five years old.

As of February, three sites were being considered and rated for a care facility by UA's Campus and Facilities Planning.

And before anything more can commence, a coordinator must be hired, Gilliland said.

Meanwhile, UA parents continue to remain optimistic.

"I don't really, on a regular basis, have somebody I can count on," said Susan Derek, an interdisciplinary studies senior. "It would be wonderful to have somewhere on campus."

Derek has two children who attend school and one who re - quires a baby-sitter. She said she misses study groups and waits until the late evening when her husband can watch her children before she can study for classes.

Dorothy Roome, a media arts graduate student, said child care is also of great interest to graduate students. Last week, she was asked to become a member of the child care steering committee.

"I had seen graduate students really burned out doing their studies with small children (to care for)," Roome said.

"I think the big thing is getting a referral list," said Karlene Nelson, a merchandising consumer studies senior. "I think the big issue is trusting the facility or person."

Nelson has a baby less than a year old, and she said it took her over six months to find a baby-sitter that was willing to watch her child in conjunction with Nelson's class schedule. Working part-time, she said it can be difficult to find a rate that is suitable to parents.

"It would be nice to have something on campus," Nelson said. Read Next Article