1970s: In the beginning
In the early 70s, a small group of NIH parents and other community employees approached NIH to discuss and consider offering on-site child care. By providing quality child care services, they felt that NIH employees would be able to accept jobs and be more effective in their employment, knowing that their child was in a safe environment and being properly cared for. With an ever growing workforce, NIH realized that child care needs would increase and some type of relief would be needed. For the next two years, NIH began the quest to identify space on campus for its first child care center.
On June 18, 1973, the first child care center, known as the Preschool Development Center [now known as the Parents of Preschoolers, Inc. (POPI)], opened its doors in Building 35 and began providing child care services to 18 children ages 2 1/2 to 5 years of age. Over time, additional space was provided and the enrollment increased to 65 children.
The success in the implementation of this center laid the foundation for future child care services to be offered at NIH.
1980s: Infant Care is made available
In 1983, information gathered from an internal survey conducted by POPI indicated an overwhelming demand for infant child care services at NIH. This type of care had strict licensing requirements and the cost and organizational planning for an infant care center was extremely high. At this time there were only two infant care programs licensed in Montgomery County.
NIH was approached in 1986 by a non-profit corporation seeking to lease space on the NIH campus to continue its child care program. The center was currently housed in a nearby high school and accommodated 28 children ages 6 weeks to 3 years. One-third of the center's enrollment consisted of NIH employees and many more had their names on the waiting list . With the center's lease soon to expire and no renewal options available, space had to be identified or the program would be forced to shut down.
NIH acknowledged that this program provided a vital service to the NIH community and determined not to let this program close its doors. In 1987, NIH identified a site on its campus. Within 5 1/2 months a modular building that would accommodate 36 infants & toddlers was constructed. On July 6, 1987, ChildKind, Inc. opened its doors in Building T-46 on the NIH campus.
1989-1991: Establishment of the NIH Day Care Committee and its activities
With the introduction of two child care centers on campus and a continuing increased desire to have quality child care made available, the Office of the Director, NIH, established a NIH Day Care Committee.
Under the guidance of, the Director, Division of Space and Facility Management (DSFM), Office of Research Services, members for this Committee who shared an interest in child needs were solicited from within the NIH community. On July 13, 1989, the Committee held its first day care meeting. The Committee was tasked with two objectives; 1) to review the existing day care policies and needs; and 2) to present a comprehensive plan, which would address the diverse needs of NIH employees in the area of child care. The first objective of the Committee was accomplished by conducting a campus-wide Needs Assessment Survey in 1990. The responses demonstrated an overwhelming agreement that child care was of great importance and that a large number of NIH staff had child care needs. Continuing with its mission to develop a model day care program, five Subcommittees were appointed and each were assigned an independent task associated with the Committees' objectives.
These Subcommittees and their tasks were:
Day Care Referral: To investigate various options for providing a resource center to maintain and provide information to NIH employees on referrals to day care, subsidy programs, sick care, and various other services offered in the Washington metropolitan area.
Current NIH Day Care Services: To provide extensive evaluation of the current quality of NIH-sponsored child care programs. From this evaluation, existing guidelines established for child care operations were incorporated into each programs' Use Agreement to ensure the programs met or exceeded these standards. These guidelines included obtaining and maintaining all current state and local licenses to operate a child care facility, adhering to all General Services Administration (GSA) regulations and requirements for day care centers, and obtaining and maintaining National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation.
Central Oversight: To consider the need for NIH oversight of any child care programs it sponsors; to recognize the importance of implementing policies of fairness and access for all NIH employees; and to analyze the mechanisms that could serve these functions. It also developed ways to keep staff and NIH management informed about child care issues, and for staff to have input into planning. This Subcommittee recommended the development of a permanent oversight board that would address these issues on a continuing basis, while trying to assure the maintenance of high quality care and afford ability. The Subcommittee drafted a Charter for a NIH Day Care Oversight Board, which was then presented to Dr. Bernadine Healy on July 31, 1992. On August 12, 1992, Dr. Healy approved the Charter and the formation of the NIH Day Care Oversight Board.
Fund Raising: To explore options to raising funds for all NIH day care. Funds will be used to provide subsidies for tuition and offset equipment costs. The Subcommittee would also explore changes in regulations to provide more financial assistance to day care providers.
Family Day Care Network: To explore the desirability and feasibility of establishing a network of family home-based providers.
1991-1992: GSA's assistance is requested to retain local child care program
Realizing that child care needs could not be met by the existing programs offered on campus, NIH surveyed the surrounding community and found a program at a nearby community building known as the Nettie Ottenberg Memorial Child Care Center, Inc. (NOMCCC) [now known as the Executive Child Development Center (ECDC)], which had originated and branched off from the existing POPI program. This program was providing child care services to approximately 160 children ages 2 to 12 years. Astonishingly, over two-thirds of the center's enrollment was children of NIH employees. The NIH considered this program a valuable asset to its employees and expressed an interest in sponsoring them as a NIH child care facility. Discussions between NIH, GSA and the landlord commenced to negotiate a lease agreement for the space currently occupied by NOMCCC. In March, 1992, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between NIH and NOMCCC.
1992-1994: Building a better working relationship with the child care centers
To gain a better understanding of how NIH would undertake addressing future child care needs, in May 1992 Collins Management Consulting, Inc. (CMC, Inc.) was hired to conduct an on-site evaluation of the three NIH-sponsored child care centers. The principal study objectives were to 1) provide an independent assessment of each center currently involved in a Use Agreement with NIH; 2) develop tools that the centers and NIH can utilize on an on-going basis for child care assessment and program improvement; and 3) develop a final report with study findings, recommendations, and an action plan. The Committee and the child care centers collaborated with CMC, Inc. for the next six months to successfully accomplish this study.
The final report was presented to the Committee in June 1993. During this same year, the five subcommittees were dissolved and, as recommended by the Central Oversight Subcommittee, a permanent NIH Day Care Oversight Board was established.
Four major recommendations were identified in the report. The first identified actions that each of the three child care centers could utilize to bring about program improvement; the second recommendation highlighted actions that the Board could consider to support the centers; and the third and fourth recommendations were actions that should be considered by the Board and NIH to address afford ability and accessibility for child care for all NIH employees. The report became a benchmarking tool for the Board and the child care centers the next two years to ensure that the center's physical needs were being met and to support their ongoing self improvement efforts.
1994-1995: NIH leases additional off campus space
The NIH requested GSA's assistance in identifying a new facility to house the NOMCCC child care program once its lease expired. The facility had to be within 10 miles of the NIH campus and large enough to accommodate 200 children and staff. GSA identified approximately 25,000 sq.ft. of office space in one of its building located in Rockville, Maryland as a potential site. On June 29, 1995, ECDC opened the doors to its new state-of-the-art child care center. The center is licensed for 220 children ages 6 weeks to 13 years.
1995-1996: On-campus child care facility assessments
With the opening of a new off-campus child care center, the Board realized it was time to focus its attention toward the two on-campus facilities. The POPI program had been located in Building 35 for almost 25 years and the ChildKind, Inc. program in Building T-46 for almost 10 years. There was evidence that the centers were beginning to show their ages and structural upgrades and improvements were needed.
At the request of the Board in 1995, DSFM spearheaded a task team consisting of members from the Division of Engineering Services, the Division of Public Safety, and the Division of Safety to conduct a comprehensive child care facility assessment of the two on-campus child care centers. The purpose of the assessments were to identify facility deficiencies and make recommendations on how to correct them in a timely manner.
A copy of the final assessment report was presented to the Board in April 1996. A variety of minor structural deficiencies and code violations were identified and corrected accordingly. The primary structural deficiency identified in the report was the lack of adequate and appropriate space in each facility. The NIH determined that it would need to seek funding from Congress for these improvements.
1997-1998: Designing and construction of two new child care centers
As part of NIH’s FY'97 Buildings & Facilities budget request to the President, $2.8 million dollars was obtained to fund the associated cost of the structural deficiencies in Building T-46 and 35, and an additional $3.5 million dollars was allocated to design and construct a new state-of-the-art child care center for 100 children. The new center would be constructed on the east side of the NIH campus next to Building 45 (Natcher). The project would be referred to and known as the East Child Care Center. This was a tremendous accomplishment shared by the Board in its efforts toward improving the quality of child care services offered to NIH employees.
Referring back to the deficiencies identified in the final assessment report of Building T-46, NIH realized that additional upgrades would be needed to the existing Heating Venting and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. These upgrades would require extensive renovations which meant that the center could not remain open during construction. The NIH considered providing temporary space in a near-by modular building to allow the program to remain in operation during the renovations. The modular building was recently vacated and could provide enough space for the child care program while the renovations occurred. Unfortunately, this building would not meet state and local child care licensing requirements in its current condition, and NIH did not feel it would be cost effective to renovate the building for temporary housing.
The owner of the modular building informed NIH that its company could design and construct buildings for child care centers that would meet all state and local child care licensing requirements as well as the needs of our child care program. Once the costs associated with the construction of a customized modular building and the upgrading costs for the existing HVAC were compared, NIH decided to proceed with the construction of a new customized modular building. The project took slightly over one year to complete. On June 8, 1998, the child care program opened its doors in its new and improved T-46 facility.
With a new child care center being designed, the next step was to determine what type(s) of child care program(s) should be offered. In August 1997, the Board conducted another campus-wide survey to assess the current child care needs of the NIH community. Survey results identified a strong need for infant, toddler and preschool care, and a full-time Kindergarten program. A task group was established to evaluate the merits of these programs. Each of the three existing child care centers also provided a proposal on how they would address the needs of the NIH community given the opportunity to expand their programs into the new East Child Care Center.
In 1998, the Board decided that the current child care program in Building 35 would relocate into the new East Child Care Center to allow for the expansion of its preschool program from 65 to 80 children, and provide a full-time Kindergarten program for 20 children. A New Facility Task Team was appointed to work with the child care center in developing the Program of Requirements. The center was designed to include five classrooms, administrative space, parent and teacher conference areas, kitchen, laundry and utility spaces. On June 30, 2000, the NIH conducted a groundbreaking ceremony on the construction site of the new center. The new East Child Care Center is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2001.
1998-1999: Presidential support for quality child care
In a Presidential Memorandum of March 10, 1998, President Clinton directed the heads of all Federal agencies with sponsored child care programs to take specific actions to 1) ensure proper background checks of child care workers; 2) achieve 100 percent independent accreditation; 3) explore partnerships with the private sector to improve child care quality and afford ability; and 4) ensure that Federal workers become better informed of child care benefits and the options available to them.
The Board was pleased to indicate that all of the NIH child care centers had achieved and were continuing to maintain their NAEYC accreditation. Through the efforts of the Board, a Memorandum of Understanding was developed between NIH and the GSA to fund the cost and conduct the child care centers' criminal background checks. The third accomplishment came about when NIH creating the Work and Family Life Center, which has been tasked to ensure that NIH employees are better informed of child care benefits and options, and also provide personalized referrals for child care.
To make child care more affordable, several bills were introduced in the 2000 session of Congress and are currently being proposed in legislation that would expand the availability of child care to Federal employees and contractors. Among these proposals are H.R. 206, introduced by Representative Connie Morella of Maryland and several other members of Congress; S. 1176, introduced by Senators Robb and Warner of Virginia and Senator Sarbanes of Maryland; and S. 813, introduced by Senator Jeffords of Vermont and others. These proposals would authorize executive agencies, such as NIH, to use appropriated funds, otherwise available for salaries, to increase the affordability of child care services for lower income Federal employees. Additionally, H.R. 28, introduced by Representative Gilman of New York and others and S. 813 would require Federally supported child care centers to give on-site Federal contractors the same priority in enrolling their children in Federally supported centers that the centers are currently required to give to Federal employees. Both Representative Morella's bill and Representative Gilman's bill have been recommended favorably by the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight but have not yet been voted upon by the full House of Representatives. The NIH has established a work group to explore how the newly legislated child care subsidy program could be implemented.
1999-2000: Child care services in the new millennium
By 1999, the awareness for quality child care had escalated and the Board found the need to redefine its roles and responsibilities. The NIH hired a consultant to assess the efficiency, effectiveness, and communications of the various management components of the NIH child care program. Fried and Sher, Inc., a local company with extensive experience in integrating work and family through child care center development, management, and design, was hired to evaluate the current management structure of the Board and the child care centers, identify areas of strength, weakness, and overlapping functions, and provide recommendations for an improved management structure. The final report was presented to the Board on September 7, 2000.
The Board is currently reviewing recommendations from the report in redefining its roles and responsibilities, as well as investigating how to implement recommendations to adopt a management model that best fits the NIH culture, responds to the child care needs of the NIH community, and improves the overall effectiveness of the NIH Child Care Programs.