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Northwestern University: Near-site New Center Build and Expansion

When the best in the world want to compete with other bests for top employees, they set out to differentiate. To achieve their goal of attracting the most talented faculty, staff, and students from across the globe, they decided to develop a full-time, early childhood education and care facility. After helping them design the center, KinderCare Education at Work (KCE) went on to operate it – and gave prospective talent another reason to put Northwestern at the top of their list. 


To maintain its position among top tier educational institutions, Northwestern University actively sought ways to ensure it was perceived as a great place to work and study. One aspect of this effort – a full-time early childhood education and care facility to support faculty, staff, and students. Lori Anne Henderson, Director of Work/Life Resources at Northwestern, explains, "At the center, Northwestern University faculty, staff and students have a quality child care center very close to campus, and these parents can be more productive at work, knowing their children are learning and receiving quality care." 


Northwestern chose KinderCare Education at Work to staff and operate its University Children's Center because it had confidence we would deliver on what they felt was most important: 

  • Educational Philosophy. The University sought a company with a structured, age-appropriate curriculum that fostered the academic, social, cognitive and physical development of each child and included additional enrichment programs for those who chose to participate.
  • Commitment to Partnership. Northwestern wanted a provider who would truly customize the program to meet the needs of their community, whether that meant flexible hours, increased academic offerings, tuition subsidy programs or anything else required by its faculty, staff, and students. 
  • Operational Expertise. Due to the lack of a suitable building on campus, the school wanted to partner with a provider with construction and maintenance expertise, in addition to a demonstrated record of success operating centers in a fiscally responsible manner. 

After selecting and renovating a space close to the campus, KCE opened the University Children's Center in January of 2005, complete with a beautiful indoor play area designed to counter Chicago's inclement weather. Initially licensed for 112 children, the program has been so successful the decision has been made to expand to meet increased demand. Parents love the close proximity to their offices and classrooms, often taking advantage of the center's open door policy to stop in to eat or play with their children during the day. They also really appreciate the focus on developing the children and the wide range of academic enrichment programs available. Recently, one Northwestern parent commented:

"We are very happy with the center. We have absolutely loved all of our son's teachers. I have been so impressed with how well suited each has been for the age group they have been working with (the infant teachers were perfect for infants; the toddler teachers were perfect for toddlers, etc.). I think they all do a fantastic job of trying to create a sense of community among the parents, as well." 


Lori Anne appreciates the benefit the center offers to her high-performing work force. "I hear from many parents; they feel a great deal of assurance that their children are just a step away. I think it gives them a great feeling of comfort and confidence that their children are being well cared for. And they feel good about us as a place to work, and may even stay with us longer as a result." 

Parents love the close proximity to their offices and classrooms, often taking advantage of the center's open door policy to stop in to eat or play with their children during the day.

"Many prospective faculty, staff and students contact us to inquire about the child care options. We are very pleased to be able to offer KCE's University Children's Center to these parents." – LORI ANNE HENDERSON, DIRECTOR OF WORK/LIFE RESOURCES