Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
July 2, 2022

The development of a Hopkins-sponsored early child care center near the Homewood campus moved forward with the closure of a University employee parking lot on Oct. 4, according to a notice by Transportation Services.

A temporary child care center is slated to open next September at the former Stony Run parking lot, which is located at the intersection of Remington Avenue and Wyman Park Drive, according to a May 2014 report by the Office of Work, Life and Engagement titled “Responding to the Need for Child Care on the Homewood Campus.”

Among its findings, the report said that peer institutions offered “considerably more child care options” than Hopkins, following an analysis of 10 “Ivy Plus” peer institutions selected and contacted by the University.

The temporary center will take the form of a one-level, modular building with a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. A permanent center will be built at the intersection of University Parkway and San Martin Drive, a location previously occupied by the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Embryology.

“Upon making their commitment to child care, University leadership wanted to expedite the process, so discussions included a short-term or temporary solution and a long term or permanent solution,” Michelle Carlstrom, senior director of the Office of Work, Life and Engagement, wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

Development of the temporary site will include removing the parking surface and remediating contamination in the lot, according to an email sent by the administration to the Homewood faculty and staff.

“Routine testing indicated old petroleum contamination in spots,” the email read. “We believe such contamination is likely part of the soil brought in decades ago to fill the site. The University will remediate this contamination across the entire site to ensure the project exceeds applicable state safety standards.”

The email also said that employees who previously used the Stony Run parking lot would be offered alternate parking options at equivalent costs.

Once open, the temporary center will accommodate up to 94 children. Carlstrom wrote that enrollment in the Homewood Early Learning Center will be open to anyone with children between the ages of 10 weeks and five years. However, priority will be given to University faculty, staff, post-doctoral students and graduate students.

The center will be managed by Downtown Baltimore Child Care (DBCC), an organization that manages early child care for the University of Maryland at Baltimore. While DBCC is not guaranteed a management role in the permanent center, Margo Sipes, Executive Director of DBCC, said they will have an option to renew their contract before the permanent center opens.

All of the Homewood Early Learning Center employees, including the center’s director, will be hired through DBCC. The future director of the center, once hired, will determine the potential for undergraduate student involvement. Head and assistant teacher positions will not be available to students, as DBCC requires degrees for both positions — however, Sipes said they might consider taking on students in volunteering, part-time working and work-study positions.

DBCC was selected after a process that began last spring and included site visits, interviews and budget discussions. The process took into account staff-to-child ratios and staff credentials, along with faculty input.

Meetings with KSAS and WSE faculty on Sept. 23, 2013 and Oct. 15, 2013 noted a “strong consensus that a child care center is an investment in attracting and retaining high-quality faculty,” according to the “Responding to the Need for Child Care on the Homewood Campus” report.

Meetings also highlighted a desire for a “program model that moves from a strong child-focused model at the younger ages to a progressively more structured day as children age and prepare for school.”

DBCC follows a child- and play-focused approach, according to Sipes. Rather than focusing on “isolated academics” — teaching children about colors, letters, shapes and other early childhood learning topics in isolation — DBCC emphasizes developing this knowledge in conjunction with broader skills, including communication, critical thinking and self-direction.

“We take what’s happening functionally in the class and develop our curriculum around that,” Sipes said. “If you walk into our pre-K word wall in the second half of the school year, you’ll see multi-syllable words, like ‘paleontology’ and ‘birthday’ — or maybe ‘skeleton’ around Halloween.”

Plans for the Homewood Early Learning Center began in 2010 and were organized by the Office of Work, Life and Engagement.

“The call for a child care center on the Homewood campus has been ongoing for many years. In 2010, faculty raised concerns the Office of Work, Life and Engagement was brought in to assist,” Carlstrom wrote.

This assistance included contracting with Mills Consulting Group, Inc. to determine the feasibility of a child care center and to establish a process for creating one, along with working with the Maryland Family Network’s LOCATE service to evaluate child care options in the area and compiling demographic data to assess child care needs at Hopkins.

A website with information about cost, enrollment and tuition will be launched in December, according to Carlstrom. Once they are finalized, architectural drawings of the temporary center will also be available online.

Editor's Note: This article previously stated that the center was scheduled to open in 2020. However, a projected opening date has not been confirmed.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The News-Letter.

News-Letter Special Editions