Parents angry at University of Utah after daycare center closes

Oct 1, 2021, 6:58 PM | Updated: Oct 5, 2021, 11:51 am
(The toddler room, provided by the University of Utah.)
(The toddler room, provided by the University of Utah.)

(Correction:  An earlier version of this story used a picture of an inaccurate location of the daycare center in question.)

SALT LAKE CITY — One group of parents is furious with the University of Utah after the closure of a popular daycare center.  They say the school made promises to them that aren’t being honored. 

Parents with children at the university’s Child and Family Development Center were told in August that the daycare service was being dissolved. But they were reportedly assured their children would be accepted into the nearby UKids center.  However, parents received a letter saying unexpected staffing shortages have significantly reduced the number of open spots at UKids.

Heartbreaking for families

One parent, Ashley Brichter, said, “We were guaranteed childcare at UKids.  They said, ‘You’re guaranteed a spot.  You don’t have to worry about it.  They didn’t tell us it was dependent on the teachers staying.”

Brichter says this was heartbreaking for her and her family.  She says her business barely survived the pandemic, and she just doesn’t need the stress of finding new childcare.

“I can’t even communicate the level of burnout that I feel as a parent of two young children after this year,” she said.

University of Utah daycare had enough teachers at the time

University officials say, when they assured parents they would have a spot at UKids, there actually were enough teachers in the center to handle the influx of students. And they expected those teachers to stay.  However, University Spokesman Shawn Wood says several teachers left in recent weeks, and there are no applicants in line to take their place.

He said, “Childcare experts are hard to come by, and we just can’t maintain the same level of care for the students that were cared for in that entity with the number of teachers we have in UKids.”

Daycare center workers on the decline

According to Wood, daycare centers all across the country are seeing a similar drop in workers.  He says they’re trying to find more teachers, but, for now, all three of their UKids facilities are significantly understaffed.

Wood said, “They’re down about 25 part-time positions and nine full-time.”

He says if they can find enough daycare professionals to fill the open positions, the parents of the displaced CFDC facility will get priority for childcare spots.

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