No childcare stipends for university employees despite preschool closure


Isabella Breda - Editor in Chief

The Fredrickson Family Early Childhood Center at California Lutheran University has been closed for nearly one year and a reopening date is not yet in sight.

Christer Maxine Schmidt, Reporter

The Fredrickson Family Early Childhood Center (FFECC) at California Lutheran University has been closed since February 2020. Although many parts of the Thousand Oaks campus have reopened, the preschool that some faculty members and staff depend on for childcare currently remains closed.

The Center was closed in February due to COVID, and has not been reopened due to the budget impact of operating under COVID requirements such restrictions on the number of students due to room sizes,”  Ryan Van Ommeren, associate vice president of Planning and Services said in an email interview. “The employees were furloughed at that time and they remain furloughed.”

According to Van Ommeren, the preschool has provided infant and toddler daycare for staff, faculty and community members of California Lutheran University. The FFECC provides a 30% discount for university employees.

The university has been unable to provide childcare stipends to employees who previously used the childcare facility due to budgetary issues, Van Ommeren said.

The facility remains closed due to health safety concerns.

Part of the difficulty comes from keeping masks on small children and keeping them socially distanced, especially difficult in shared spaces. Children tend to be messy and germs are quick to spread in a setting like preschool, where toys and other surfaces are shared.

“Social distancing with young children is a challenging effort,” the Covid-19 Child Care Programs and Providers guidelines from the state of California state. “However, the recommendations set forth aim to keep children and providers safe and healthy, while ensuring children are in a nurturing and responsive environment.”

California guidelines require face coverings, disinfectants, and gloves for workers and require children over the age of 2 to wear masks.

“The university will re-open the Center at such time it can be done in a way that both follows all State Guidelines and it can be operated with minimal subsidy,” Van Ommeren said.