On Friday, the mix of students on Virginia Tech’s campuses will include some young Hokies for the second annual Bring Your Children to School Day, sponsored by the Graduate School. The event highlights the need for affordable and available child care for students with families.

While the day focuses on graduate students, Graduate School childcare coordinator Marin Riegger noted that undergraduate students and staff members with families also struggle to find care for their children.

“The lack of affordable, accessible, quality child care in this area presents an insurmountable barrier to many families who are engaged in academic and professional pursuits,” said Riegger. “We encourage others, with or without children, to gather with us, to acknowledge the struggle that these families face, and to reinforce the movement toward inclusion.”

Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education Karen P. DePauw has been an advocate for affordable quality child care for graduate students since she arrived on campus. In 2015, the Graduate School launched a parent support group, a babysitter clearinghouse, and Little Hokie Hangout, a cooperative playgroup. All have proved popular with students.

The Graduate School again sent notes to colleges and programs about the planned event and suggestions for providing spaces and activities for the children during those hours. Riegger said many have embraced the idea. The Graduate School will have several family-friendly spaces available, as well.

Families and the university community are invited to gather on the lawn between the Graduate School and Squires Student Center at 11:30 a.m. Riegger and Graduate School staff will welcome the group, and then lead a walk over to the Drillfield. There, Professor Laura Sands will talk about the importance of early childhood education and good childcare, sharing her own experiences as a graduate student with children. Sands is in the Department of Human Development’s Center for Gerontology. Families may bring picnic lunches to enjoy on the Drillfield.

The Graduate School will provide fruit, cookies and drinks. Americorps volunteers will lead games and activities for the children, who also will be invited to help create a banner of the baby HokieBird with their handprints depicting tail feathers on the little bird.