Hokies are likely to see some very young, "nontraditional" students on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg, Roanoke and National Capital Region campuses on Friday, April 15. The Virginia Tech Graduate School is sponsoring the university’s first Bring Your Children to School Day to raise awareness of the lack of available child care for graduate students with families, said Marin Riegger, Graduate School child care coordinator.

“We aim to demonstrate the size and scale of the child-care issue at Virginia Tech. Families pushed for this because there is no child care available right now in this area for infants and toddlers,” she said. Undergraduate students, staff members and faculty with young families also struggle to find affordable child care, and it can be a deciding factor on whether to attend or work for the university, she added.

Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw has long been an advocate for affordable, quality child care for graduate students, and the Graduate School launched three initiatives for families in 2015. Those include Little Hokies Hangout, a cooperative playgroup; a parent support group; and an online babysitter clearinghouse.

The Graduate School sent notes to graduate program coordinators and directors about the planned event and suggestions for providing spaces and activities for the children during those hours. Additionally DePauw contacted deans, school directors and department heads about the event. Riegger said many have embraced the idea. The Graduate School will have several family-friendly spaces available, as well. Graduate School Associate Dean Kenneth Wong said the university's Northern Virginia campus in Falls Church will have spaces and activities for children, and Roanoke campuses also will celebrate the event.

The day's schedule suggests bringing children to classes and offices from 8-11 a.m. At 11:15, families will gather on the lawn between the Graduate Life Center and Squires Student Center. DePauw will welcome the group, and then families and friends will walk to the Drillfield at 11:30 a.m. Professor Laura Sands, wife of Virginia Tech President Tim Sands, will address the crowd at the Drillfield and discuss the importance of early childhood education.

Riegger asked families to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the lawn afterward. The Graduate School will provide cookies, drinks and activities, and a banner families can sign, and children can mark with hand or footprints.

Riegger said the theme of the event is, “Nurture the inventors of our future,” a play on the university’s "Invent the Future" tag line.  Students and families are encouraged to post photos on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) with the hashtag #vtkidstoschool.

For more information, email Riegger.

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