Oct. 16, 2007
By George Mauzy
Ohio University, the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce and the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development have established a partnership aimed at expanding child care options in the region.
The collaboration -- the Athens Community Child Care Partnership -- is led by Ohio University Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration for Human Resources Jim Kemper and Jennifer Simon of the chamber. Its formation followed an Ohio University Child Care Task Force survey that shed light on the lack of available and affordable child care and the problems that causes for area families.
Additional members are being recruited to represent businesses, families, employees, providers and others who will act as resources as solutions are sought.
"With this partnership, we've moved from the problem identification, data gathering and planning stages to the implementation phase," said Ohio University Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration Terry Conry. "The partnership's goal is to get the university working with other organizations and businesses in the community toward a full spectrum of child care solutions."
The partnership's current initiatives:
- Administer a second online survey of the local community this fall to better define child care needs among residents not affiliated with the university. In a survey conducted last winter, 94 percent of the respondents were Ohio University faculty, staff and students. Results of the new survey will be shared at open forums to generate additional feedback and discuss possible solutions.
- Promote new entrepreneurial opportunities to local child care providers and help them take advantage of available small business development resources.
- Share child care industry best practices with area child care providers to help improve their business plans.
- Develop a communication plan to keep the community informed about current child care openings, providers, news and initiatives.
- Create a relationship between Ohio University Human Resources and the Chamber of Commerce Human Resources managers' group to share information and resources and provide a regular forum for child care discussions.
Simon, CEO and president of the economic development council for the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, said she will make sure all 480 members of the chamber receive information about the online survey to provide more input from local business owners and their employees.
"Hopefully the second survey reflects a broader perspective from the community," Simon said. "I have repeatedly heard complaints about the child care situation from local business owners and their employees since I began this job in 2004. I'm excited because this partnership has many great resources that can benefit the whole community."
Ohio University Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl formed the Child Care Task Force in mid-2006 and asked it to identify the community's child care needs and recommend solutions. The task force report was fueled by the fact that 83 percent of respondents to the first survey believed the lack of child care has interfered with their ability to attend work or school and 71 percent prefer center-based child care over home-based child care.