UCR Early Childhood Services Must Confront a Deficit

Early Childhood Services serves approximately 350 children each year.

UC Riverside’s Early Childhood Services (formerly called the Child Development Center) has announced that the center must balance a budget that has been running at deficit for several years.

The university’s decision to make up the difference with raised rates and reallocation of teaching personnel drew a strong response from parents, who said they wanted more time and more information, as well as a chance to offer an alternative solution.

In a letter to parents, Vice Chancellor Ron T. Coley said he is able to offer three months for a committee of parents, faculty and teaching staff to offer alternatives to address the deficit. The committee will be chaired by UCR Professor Jennifer Hughes. “Our intent has been and will continue to be to preserve the quality program while also reducing a continued operational loss,” Coley said. The committee has until Sept. 30, 2016 to offer an alternative.

The change originally announced by the university would require replacing 10 higher level teaching positions with lower-paying positions. In addition, tuition would increase an average of 8 percent.

“UCR ECS provides early care and education services marked by a tradition of caring and high quality,” said Renée Jacobs, Executive Director of Early Childhood Services.  “We have consistently offered quality and choice to the campus community.”

Jacobs said the center will continue to meet the high standards set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the California Department of Education Quality Rated services, as well as research-based best practices.

Over the last year, the University has reviewed the operations of several campus departments, assessing the mission, goals, finances, staffing and sustainability of the operations. In this case, a decision was made to restructure the staffing levels to stabilize financial models and address an operating deficit that has in the past five years ranged from $200,000 to $913,000 annually.

“The new model was designed to be responsive to the financial needs of the diverse socio-economic groups that utilize services, as well as address philosophical ideals of different constituency groups served at UCR’s ECS,” said Jacobs.  “By implementing a more fiscally accountable and sustainable operations model, the campus will be able to continue to operate comprehensive early childhood programs.”

Jacobs said that ECS will endeavor to retain as many of the current staff as possible, in accordance with provisions of the collective bargaining agreement with teachers, The university’s proposed reorganization would affect prospects for 10 full-time employees.

The Early Childhood Center serves more than 350 children in its programs annually.

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