Closing of Child Development Center negatively impacts students with children


Dafny Flores, Intern

With the shutdown of UTSA’s Child Development Center, students with children are reevaluating their experience at UTSA. 

The Center has experienced recurring short-term closures since it reopened in January 2021. In November of the same year, the Center on Main Campus had to shut down due to a fire in its HVAC system. Eventually, in April 2022, the university announced its intention to cease operations on May 31.

Senior Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, LT Robinson, partnered with Business Affairs to propose renovations and plans for the Center. Robinson explained that a new childcare model is being developed as a part of the partnership.

“I am leading a team that is exploring new options to support UTSA students who have children,” Robinson said. “We are creating a new child-care model that will better meet the needs of students with children — needs that have changed as a result of the pandemic. Our group will spend about a year exploring all of the available options, especially the opportunity to collaborate with community partners. I encourage you to re-visit this story in Fall 2023 when a plan is in place and there are updates to share.”

The Child Development Center is a home and community for students, who have built relationships with the staff to ensure trust and safety for their children. 

One of these students is Kelsey Santibanez, who expressed feeling comfortable in leaving her children at the Center.

“[The Child Development Center] was [a place where] we created a small village of faculty,” Santibanez said.

Since the Center closed, students have also had to adjust their daily commutes. The Center was located between parking lots 10 and 11 on the southwest side of the Main Campus, making it an accessible location for students who have on-campus classes or need to study. However, the shutdown has changed this. 

UTSA recommended a list of daycares where students can enroll their children for the forthcoming semester. However, this change could have an impact on the commute and education of affected students.

 “[The Center made it] a lot easier to get to class, drop the baby off and leave instead of living about an hour away, making the commute of like an hour there and an hour back. So, it just helped me out a ton,” Chelsey Detrick said.

For more than a year, students with children continue to be left without financial assistance. Out of the many benefits, UTSA provided enrolled students with financial grants to help with the cost of the center. 

“Financially, it’s also been different because I got a 50% grant at the daycare on campus,” Santibanez said “They offer it if you meet a certain requirement … I think [it] just like goes off your income and your GPA … I got a 50% grant for both of my kids. So essentially, I was paying for one child. It was like a two-for-one deal which helped [substantially].”

This lack of financial assistance is coupled with concerns about daycare expenses.

“I was paying around like a little less than $650 a month for two kids on campus. Now, I’m paying I think $1400 [for a month], $350 [for] a week. So, yeah, it at least doubled,” Santibanez said. 

Months without the Center have also affected students, their family and their education.

 “I think after a year of not having child care, and not being able to make it to class, I probably wouldn’t be able to attend UTSA anymore,” Detrick said.

The Paisano reached out to LT Robinson for comment about plans to reopen the center.

“We are currently developing a robust suite of services, including the possibility of multiple childcare location options, to assist with meeting the varying needs of student-parents,” Robinson said. “Additionally, we expect to offer a financial support pilot program for UTSA student-parents starting in Jan. 2023, pending approval from the U.S. Department of Education.”

“We are tentatively scheduled to announce Phase 1 of our plan in Dec. 2022 to align with our pilot program application launch [and] also plan to collect student-parent feedback in the early part of the spring semester,” Robinson added.