Tufts University Administration’s decision to transfer management of the Tufts Educational Day Care Center (TEDCC) — or as it is affectionately known, “Little Tufts” — was rushed and lacked transparency. In making this change, Tufts University dismantled a program that has been an important part of our community since 1973.
Months before the start of the new school year, parents willingly signed a contract with Tufts, allowing their children to attend TEDCC. The decision to transfer control of the center to Bright Horizons Family Solutions was announced to both parents and staff just seven weeks before the first day of school, leaving parents with very few options regarding their child’s education. The state attorney general’s Consumer Protection Office has said it received multiple complaints regarding the management change. Despite the option to withdrawal with a full refund, this last minute change gave parents very little time to reserve a spot for their children at another day care center in time for the upcoming school year.
The discussion to pass along control of the center to the Bright Horizons for-profit chain excluded parents and center staff voices and opinions. In doing so, important stakeholders were left out of this decision-making process.
In order to reflect the university’s mission to promote positive social change, Tufts Administration should have had a transparent and inclusive process. This process could have taken many shapes. One option would have been to announce an inevitable management change and include a panel of parents, staff and administrators when shopping for a new day care management company. Another process could have included a gradual one in which parents were informed with enough time to withdraw and find another suitable option for their children.
If Tufts wishes to respect a parent’s right to choose where their children receive an education, they should postpone the management change for a year and gradually reintroduce the program to parents. This process could include taking the time to have informational meetings, introducing new management heads to parents and staff in both formal and informal sessions, explaining new benefits to staff and ensuring the continuation of an inclusive culture in honor of the Tufts Education Day Care Center’s history.