Statement from Senior Vice Provost Dennis Mitchell on the Red Balloon Learning Center

February 14, 2023

Over the past few months, you have likely heard about our decision to terminate our affiliation and lease with the Red Balloon Early Childhood Learning Center in the press, over social media, and within the Columbia community. We regret that this story has taken on a life of its own and has detracted from what has always been most important to me and the Work/Life team: ensuring there is access to reliable child care at the most affordable rates possible. 

We are writing to update you on the situation. As of August 31, 2023, the Red Balloon center will close at its 560 Riverside location. We are working with a number of families currently enrolled in the center to identify alternative child care options.

Turning to the future, we are consulting with architects to begin a renovation process in the current space with the intention of opening a new, non-profit child care center that serves the maximum number of families allowed, in a quality and stable environment. 

We understand that Red Balloon has a long history as an affiliated Columbia child care center, a beloved fixture in the lives of countless Columbia and community families. Given those strong ties, the decision to end our affiliation with the center was difficult and protracted – but it was the right thing to do, based on objective analysis of Red Balloon’s track record. 

We have the opportunity to make better use of the space to serve more families, and we look forward to providing additional information as the process moves along. 

Please direct questions to the Office of Work/Life at [email protected].