Parents Press for Day Care

Concerned parents, faculty members and child care workers packed the Harvard Law School (HLS) Child Care center in a show of support for the facility Harvard that plans to close in June of 1998.

At the meeting, which took place in one of the center's playrooms, those concerned with the fate of the center mingled among the toys scattered across the floor while children played underfoot.

"We're trying to show that what the Law School [center] is doing is really good," said Elizabeth Gibb, president of the board of directors of the center. "We are pleading with them to reverse the decision."

The center is a private, non-profit corporation which is not affiliated with Harvard, but which receives free space and utilities. Eighty-five percent of the center's clients are from the University, and Harvard faculty, staff and students are given preference for the facility.

"We understand that space is a priority at the University, but we don't have the resources to rent a space on our own," Gibb said.


Sandra S. Coleman, administrative dean of HLS, said earlier this month that the three-story colonial located at 23 Everett Street will be used for visiting faculty, research programs and student organizations. She added that there are more than 20 student groups seeking space, including six or seven that have been waiting for a number of years.

Polly Price, associate vice president for human resources, said yesterday that various options are being considered for the future, including providing funding for parents who want to seek outside child care.

But supporters of the center said yesterday that its dissolution would be detrimental to the future of Harvard child care.

"Child care is really hard to find in Cambridge," said Jim Morin, the center's director. "We have a huge waiting list for children under three."

There are currently six day care centers that are housed in space owned by the University. These centers provide slots for 330 children, including 44 at the HLS center.

Cindy Santana, a representative of the Child Care Resource Center, a Cambridge-based group which aids various child care centers, said that there are only five spots available at the moment in the roughly 25 centers near Harvard.

"It would be very difficult for parents to find alternative child care," Santana said.

Judy Walker, co-manager of the Harvard Office of Work and Family, said she receives nearly 100 calls a month from Harvard affiliates seeking child care.

Officials at the center stressed that since its gives preference to Harvard employees and students, they are usually able to find care.

"Harvard faculty get priority at our center. That makes a difference," Morin said.

Professor of Law Anne-Marie Slaughter said that the center's move or closing might be viewed as an opportunity if a new space could be found to house infants. The current program is open to children ranging in age from 15 months to five years.