More Detailed Information on Russell Child Development Center

There have been several questions posed in response to the recently announced partnership for early childhood development services between Creighton and the YMCA. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with some additional detailed information.

Effective Jan. 1, 2021, the YMCA will assume operations of the James R. Russell Child Development Center (RCDC). This decision was certainly not made without careful consideration, as we are aware of how important the RCDC is to our Creighton community.

Similar to other comprehensive institutions of higher education, Creighton has been challenged with relatively flat net tuition revenue to offset increasing expenses. This challenge has been further complicated by the pandemic. Creighton University is committed to providing top-tier, accessible, Catholic, Jesuit education to our students. This type of high-quality education requires talented faculty and staff who also need to be supported. In an effort to achieve these goals, we have been obligated to consider opportunities that enable us to be more fiscally conservative in other areas of the University.

The University fully acknowledges the RCDC has a reputation for being a leader in early childhood development within the Omaha community. We also recognize that continuing to offer an exceptional childcare option for many of our Creighton families is an essential benefit. Therefore, it was critical that we vetted this potential partnership with the YMCA deeply.

Through our research and decision-making process, the following benefits were identified as key to our partnership:

  • Equal commitment to the importance of early childhood development versus childcare. The RCDC will become the sole early learning center within the YMCA that maintains NAEYC accreditation standards.
  • The ability to retain a high number of our current RCDC teachers, in part due to the Y’s comparable compensation package.
  • While the YMCA is not able to offer Federal Work Study opportunities to Creighton students, there is a desire and a commitment to hiring and placing our students within their network of early learning centers.
  • Further career development and advancement for our teachers given the scope of opportunities available at the YMCA.
  • Combined outreach in the area of community diversity and inclusion.
  • Potential for our Creighton community to access other YMCA early learning centers that may be more geographically convenient.
  • The promotion of Creighton to a wide variety of families locally which may result in additional undergraduate and professional school enrollment.
  • The ability for the RCDC administration and teachers to continue operating a similar schedule, curriculum and structure as they are now.
  • The YMCA’s proven track record of operating early learning centers, including various CHI Health facilities in Omaha.

During this time of transition, University leadership has met with the RCDC Parent Council co-chairs, and the YMCA and Creighton have held joint meetings with roughly 50 parents and families who have children at the RCDC, in an effort to answer more detailed questions. YMCA leaders are also committed to maintaining and engaging the center’s Parent Council as part of its regular course of operations.

Although we acknowledge that there could be some changes, the YMCA has committed to partner with Creighton to maintain as much continuity as possible. It is important to Creighton University that our current and future faculty, staff and students who have young children continue to have access to quality, affordable care, and that we provide these children with a welcoming, safe and engaging environment in which they can flourish.

Jan Madsen, Executive Vice President
Molly Billings, Senior Director, Human Resources