UAA devotes resources to help Tanaina daycare relocate

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

To assist Tanaina Child Development Center with its relocation off-campus in May, the University of Alaska Anchorage is creating a task force of faculty, staff, students, Tanaina leadership and experts in childcare, real estate and nonprofit administration.

UAA Chancellor Tom Case is committed to helping Tanaina with this transition, and believes working together will result in an even brighter future for Tanaina and the families who rely on it. The task force begins meeting next week to start building a sustainable business model for Tanaina and to discuss potential locations that are more suitable for a childcare center.

"This was a difficult and emotional decision: Many of us are parents and we empathize completely with Tanaina's families," said Megan Olson, UAA vice chancellor of advancement. "That's why UAA is taking an active role, in partnership with Tanaina, to help them devise solutions for their future."

Tanaina is a 501c3 nonprofit. Although the childcare facility is a completely separate entity from UAA, the two organizations have had a longstanding, mutually beneficial relationship. For 35 years the university has given Tanaina rent-free facility space, at a current annual cost to UAA of $39,000.

The university also has supported the organization in many other ways, including facility maintenance and renovations, IT services, student teachers, and playground upgrades. In return, Tanaina provided conveniently located, affordable daycare for about 60 children of primarily UAA staff, faculty and students..

On Jan. 28, administration chose to end UAA's formal partnership agreement with Tanaina, which was first signed in 1989. Tanaina is not a UAA function and therefore was not evaluated as a part of UAA's recent prioritization process. Rather, the decision and timing was due to a number of factors, including planned renovation of the Wells Fargo Sports Complex where Tanaina is housed, necessary budget cuts, and increasing facility needs for UAA's 15,000 students. Tanaina was given three months notice to relocate. The childcare facility's last day on campus is May 8.

"UAA made a tough call, and not everyone is on board yet," Case said. "But we believe in this changing economic and demographic climate, all organizations must evolve to succeed. The task force is intended to help find Tanaina a new space and create a viable business plan: We're going to work together to make that happen."

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