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Child Care Survey Report to the Community
November 7, 2006, Volume 53, No. 11

Child Care Survey and Findings: Q&A

Penn Children's Center

Dear Colleagues:

We want to thank the campus community for participating in the child care survey distributed to faculty and staff last spring. We had a 37 percent response rate from those most likely to be interested in child care, with over 2,400 respondents. 37 percent is a very solid rate of return for this type of activity, which is a sign of the importance of this issue to the campus. We want to thank all who participated.  Your information was very helpful.

As promised, we want to share with you some of what we learned. A vast majority of respondents feel that supervisors and department chairs provide significant support and flexibility for managing the competing demands of work and family. Respondents also report that co-workers are an important source of support, and University policies are helpful with these issues.

We also heard about several under met needs. As you may recall, the survey was announced as an opportunity to gather information for long-term planning for our eastward expansion. However, what we learned through your feedback encourages us to take several actions now:

1. We will expand the Penn Children’s Center to accommodate 50+ more children. We expect that the expansion will be completed by September 2007. We believe this will be a helpful step toward meeting the need for campus child care reported by respondents.

2. When the Penn Children’s Center expansion is completed, the center will increase its hours from the current 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to a new 7 a.m. start and 7 p.m. closing time.

3. We will explore options for improving awareness of the multi-faceted work and family support Penn already provides. We realize this is necessary based on your feedback, which reveals that:

• A majority of faculty respondents were unaware of reduction in duty and part-time appointment options available for managing parenting responsibilities, as described in the online Faculty Handbook (see www.upenn.edu/assoc-provost/handbook/). 

• A large percentage of faculty and staff respondents were not aware of the free and confidential dependent care resource and referral services we offer faculty and staff through Penn Behavioral Health’s Work and Family Benefits. In fact, many of the respondents who reported great difficulty with finding child care coverage were unaware of the support they could already receive for these issues.

Penn provides access to dependent care experts who are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-321-4433 to help faculty and staff identify available dependent care services that meet family preferences and needs, i.e., for pre-school, school-age, and elder care issues. Visit www.hr.upenn.edu/quality/worklife/dependent.asp for program details.

• A substantial percentage of faculty and staff respondents were unaware of the monthly work and family presentations offered by Human Resources to help working parents better manage the competing demands in their lives.

We publicize these policies and services in publications such as Almanac and Penn@Work, as well as through multiple communications to key contacts across the campus. We realize, however, that these messages may not seem relevant if you do not have a need that relates to the topic at the time. Therefore, we encourage you to contact us when you have questions or are searching for information related to dependent care issues. To contact Human Resources or to find more information:

• e-mail askhr@hr.upenn.edu,
• call (215) 898-0380, or
• visit the Human Resources website at www.hr.upenn.edu.

Finally, we want to assure you that other feedback from the survey will continue to be assessed for feasibility for future enhancements to University services. We will keep you aware of these developments as they occur.


Ron Daniels, Provost
Craig Carnaroli, EVP

Penn Children's Center
Penn Children's Center
Penn Children's Center
The Penn Children’s Center—at the Left Bank—serves infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers; it is administered by Business Services and is nationally accredited by NAEYC.

Child Care Survey and Findings: Q&A

1. Who initiated this survey and why?

Provost Ronald Daniels and EVP Craig Carnaroli sought an understanding of the child care needs of Penn faculty and staff, as part of planning the eastward expansion of the Penn campus in coming years. They also heard from various quarters that faculty and staff were having difficulty dealing with child care responsibilities while managing job expectations and goals and were interested in learning more about this. 

2. Who created the survey?

Provost Daniels and EVP Carnaroli asked Deputy Provost Janice Bellace and Vice President for Human Resources Jack Heuer to lead the survey project. Dr. Bellace and Dr. Heuer convened a working group to assist them with this task.

The working group included:

• Marie Witt, Vice President, Business Services

• Alan Wasserstein, Vice Dean, Faculty Affairs, Associate Professor, and Director, Clinical Services, SOM

• Darcell Griffith, Executive Assistant to Vice President for Human Resources

• Marilyn Kraut, Human Resources Director, Quality of Worklife Programs

Ms. Kraut, who is responsible for the Work and Family and Worklife initiatives for the campus and has significant background in implementing employer-sited child care services for working parents, engaged the assistance of WFD Consulting to facilitate this process. 

WFD Consulting provides American and international organizations with solutions to people issues that impact businesses. Their client list includes the titans of industry, such as: IBM, American Express Company, DuPont, GlaxoSmithKline, and Johnson and Johnson, and academic institutions such as Baylor University, Ohio State University and MIT.  The project consultants: Abby Shapiro, Amy Richman, Arlene Johnson, and Laurie Shannon brought over 70 years of combined consulting experience to this project. 

3. How was the survey designed?

WFD Consulting designed the survey, using tested survey items, to meet leadership’s stated goals, to investigate faculty and staff experiences and perceptions related to:

• their current or anticipated child care responsibilities,

• the Penn work environment and the impact this has on the ability to deal with child care responsibilities, and

• the related support services available through Penn.

In addition to gaining the above information, WFD was asked to gather information on staff and faculty members’ family characteristics and child care preferences and challenges; the community supply of child care; and the demand that may exist for expanded child care programs.

4. How was the survey distributed?

The invitation to participate was distributed via an all-campus e-mail message from the President, Provost, and EVP to 3,627 faculty and 6,873 staff members. A link to an online form of the survey was included in this e-mail.  2,556 staff without e-mail addresses were mailed paper copies of the survey via intramural mail. A postage-paid envelope for returning the hard copy survey was included in the mailing. 

5. Who responded?

We received responses from 2,409 faculty and staff, as follows:

• 802 faculty respondents (22%) online,

• 1,512 staff respondents (21%) online,

• 95 (4%) completed paper surveys. 

This represents an effective 18% response rate as compared to the total population. However, since the survey invitation targeted employees with children or expecting to become parents in the near future, using the total Penn workforce population underestimates the true response rate. Using figures from Penn’s health insurance participation for faculty and staff with dependents produces an estimate of the effective response rate of 37%. 

The respondent pool very closely mirrored Penn school and center populations, so we received an even distribution of feedback from across the organization. As expected, the respondents were younger and more female than our population, in light of the subject matter:

• 70% of respondents were 44 years old or less, compared to 56% of the total population.

• 66% of respondents were female, compared to 53% of our population.

• More male faculty respondents (55%) tend to be either tenured or on the tenure track than their female counterparts (33%). More female faculty respondents (24%) tend to be instructors, lecturers or research associates than their male counterparts (10%).

• Female staff respondents (11%) are more likely to be single than male staff respondents (2%), female faculty (2%) or male faculty (1%). 

• Male faculty respondents (24%) are more likely than male staff (15%), female faculty (6%) or female staff (5%) to have a spouse/partner at home and available full- time or part-time to assist with family and household-related responsibilities.

6. How many respondents had children?

Of the 2,409 respondents, the vast majority of faculty and staff respondents have responsibilities for children under 18 or expect to within the next three to four years.  

• Approximately 1,500 (64%) of respondents have children under age 18 at home.

• Approximately 1,400 (59%) have children 0 to 14 years of age.

• Approximately 675 (28%) are planning to start or expand their families.

7. Were there differences in child care needs and preferences expressed by faculty versus staff?

Three-fourths of faculty respondents currently have child care responsibilities. A little more than one-half of staff respondents have these responsibilities.

Approximately 10% of faculty respondents expect to have child care responsibilities in the next three to four years. Approximately 20% of staff respondents have plans for children in the near future.

Almost 33% of faculty respondents are parents of an infant or toddler (ages 0 to 2 years old) or a young school age child (ages 5 to 9 years old). Nearly 20% of staff respondents have infant and toddler age children.

6% of faculty respondents are single parents as compared to 22% of staff respondents.

8. How did faculty and staff describe being supported by Penn with their family responsibilities?

On average, 75% of faculty and staff respondents reported that they have supportive supervisors regarding personal and family responsibilities.

A majority of faculty and staff respondents feel supported by their co-workers and department chairs and work unit leaders regarding family responsibilities.

65% of staff respondents reported that University policies were supportive of their personal and family responsibilities. Faculty were less aware of the various policies that would be helpful with family responsibilities.

Faculty respondents reported high value for the dependent tuition assistance program, child care pre-tax expense account, extension of the tenure clock and probationary period for family reasons, flexible work options, the Penn Children’s Center and the Family and Medical Leave policy. Staff respondents reported appreciation for flexible work options, the dependent tuition assistance program, the Family and Medical Leave policy, and the Employee Assistance Program.

9. How did faculty and staff respondents report the impact of child care and family responsibilities on their work lives?

• 81% of both faculty and staff left work early or came in late.

• 46% of faculty and 57% of staff missed a full day of work.

• 39% of faculty missed an important meeting and 27% of staff missed a deadline.

However, child care breakdowns had a more significant impact, with 29% reporting missing 5 or more days of work this past year due to child care breakdowns and 31% reporting 3 or 4 days absent for this reason. 56% of respondents reported 3 or more days of late arrivals or early departures due to child care breakdowns.

17% of faculty respondents and 16% of staff respondents indicated they may have to leave their jobs due to the challenges of family responsibilities, and 24% of faculty and 11% of staff respondents indicated that child care difficulties may encourage them to leave. Unfortunately, local experts report a severe lack of child care near campus and less than desirable child care levels in the region.

10. Why are you making changes now if this was for long-term planning?

Based on the above data, we recognized the potential for acting now to make improvements in some areas. The need for more child care spaces and expanded child care coverage was a strong message from the survey.

11. What new communication efforts will be explored?

We are researching options for expanding communications about work and family programs and services. We have not identified actions to be taken yet, but plan to make some strides in the near future.

12. What other programs or services may come out of the information in the child care survey?

Many issues and topics were covered in the survey and through individual comments.  We are making every effort possible to address these issues as time and resources allow.

13. Do all child care programs, services, and policies apply to all faculty and staff?

All programs and services apply to all full and part-time regular faculty and staff members. However, there are certain policies, such as the option for decreased duties, which addresses teaching responsibilities while pregnant or after delivering or adopting a child, that apply to faculty only. The policies in the Faculty Handbook are faculty-specific. 

14. Why is the center being expanded now?

We wanted to be as responsive as we could to the issues identified in the survey, and the need for more spaces is one area we are able to address right away.

15. Will the 50 new spaces be in a particular class, or span all age groups?

We anticipate that there will be approximately 16 infant, 20 toddler and 20 preschool spaces made available by the expansion.

16. Will Penn faculty and staff have priority placement?

Penn faculty, staff and students currently account for approximately 90% of the families at the Penn Children’s Center. We will continue to fill the slots giving preference to Penn affiliated families.

17. Are there any plans for a kindergarten?

The survey and demonstrated demand show that the greatest need is for care before the age of 5.  Therefore there are no plans for a kindergarten at this time.

18. Will staff increase at the Penn Children’s Center to accommodate the expansion?

Yes, staffing levels will increase to accommodate the additional children consistent with the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s guidelines, the accreditation held by PCC.

19. Will there be more subsidies offered for PCC tuition?

We will continue to offer discounted tuition to Penn faculty and staff, and additional discounts to Penn faculty and staff families with under $60,000 of combined family income.

Almanac - November 7, 2006, Volume 53, No. 11