July 2020

Child Development Center Q&A

Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University.
Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University.

During the Staff Senate’s recent Human Resources and Finance Panel, a question arose about the Child Development Center. We reached out to Shira Kulok, director of the Child Development Center, for assistance with the answer:

Q: Can you share some context behind recent changes at the Child Development Center (CDC), including tuition rates, reduced operating hours, and discontinued part-time enrollment?

A: Tuition increases result from an analysis of both operational expenses and the neighboring child care market. Our prices have not changed since the 2018–19 school year, yet costs continue to rise. Our new Mason-affiliated tuitions remain close to 20% below the market average, and we make every effort to keep CDC programming affordable. Tuitions this year were raised 5% for the Twos program and 3% for Preschool.

Part-time schedules were eliminated because of enrollment gaps left each year, and a steady loss of revenue. Additional details behind our rationale to raise tuition are listed below:

  • In FY20, Assistant Teachers were required to receive an unbudgeted 9-12% increase due to state pay bands
  • Pre-COVID capacity decreased by 4% to meet the criteria of our accrediting body, the National Association of Education for Young Children (NAEYC)
  • Safety improvements required for code, including replacement of the fire alarm system

Our fees are a market standard to help pay expenses, and they are not new to this school year. To clarify, our late pick-up fee is an initial $25, and then $15 at the top of every 15 minutes thereafter. Late pick-ups usually result in overtime for staff. We recognize our abbreviated hours may cause an inconvenience to some families, yet the change is a temporary response to help us implement the COVID requirements from licensing. Our hope is that during Mason’s transition month of August, that parents will receive the flexibility they need from supervisors and encouraged telework to manage the shortened hours. Yet, we are always willing to consider modifications to our operations, particularly in these challenging times, and we will take the feedback into consideration as we continue to plan our safe return to campus.

Lastly, the CDC is an auxiliary business of Mason. We are sustained on self-generated revenue alone. Tuition is our main source of revenue to recruit qualified teachers and continue to provide the university community with an early childhood program of excellence, where Mason’s in-service teachers are supported. We take pride in Mason’s values and work closely with university leadership to ensure we continue to balance the needs of our business with that of Mason’s faculty, staff, and students.

For additional information, contact Shira Kulok, director, Child Development Center, at