In a few years, KU may be caring for a generation of learners in a new child-care facility on campus.
A requirement of Kansas University students is coming of age -- literally.
"More students are coming to school with family responsibilities," said Ed Meyen, KU executive vice chancellor. "The university must be responsive to that need."
To care for a growing number of children of KU students, the university plans to start raising money for construction of a new child-care facility on campus.
KU officials will ask the state Board of Regents in May for permission to begin charging students a $2 per semester child-care facility construction fee. Summer school students would pay $1 each session.
The fee would start this fall semester and generate $91,000 the first year. During the fee's six-year life, an estimated $547,000 would be generated.
"This will be helpful, but ... we'll need substantial funds beyond this," Meyen said.
He said that if sufficient public and private funding can be secured, the new child-care facility could open in several years.
"That's good. We can certainly fill it," said Pat Pisani, associate director of Hilltop Child Development Center, 1314 Jayhawk Blvd.
The on-campus center has served KU faculty, students and staff for 21 years. Half the center's slots are reserved for children of KU students.
There are 167 children from 1 to 10 years of age at Hilltop, but the waiting list stands at 150. Some parents must wait one year to place children at Hilltop.
"There's a tremendous need for child care," Pisani said. "We have parents calling every day needing care, especially for young kids. With our space limitations, we're not able to come close to meeting the need."
KU Chancellor Gene Budig said he supports the effort to improve child-care services on the Lawrence campus.
"This is an effort to address a significant and growing problem," he said. "It is in the best interests of the university that we move ahead with dispatch."
Assessment of the fee is not likely to have an adverse financial effect on any KU student's ability to attend college, according to documents submitted by KU to the Board of Regents.
The child-care construction fee proposal was initiated by students. The measure passed Student Senate in December 1993.
In March 1993, Meyen appointed a task force to study how KU could improve its child-care services. The task force's report isn't finished.
He said the task force's assessment of child-care needs would help the university decide what type of facility to build. The university will have a better idea in June or July of the timetable, cost and location of a new center, he said.
KU must construct a child-care building that can be used well into the next century, Meyen said.
"We want to find a way to build one that makes a real difference for children," he said.