No one said being a parent or a student was ever easy. To be both can sometimes seem near impossible. But help is delivered at the South City Campus’s childcare program. The program now offers evening hours to parents. Students taking classes in the evening can now drop off their 2-8 year olds at the new facility from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday for a reasonable fee.
“We just wanted to make sure we served all students on campus,” said program manager Shalome Orton. “Since it’s a community college there’s such a broad range of students, such as working students, student parents, and all different incomes and ages. We need to make sure we’re supporting those students with families as well as those without families and this is the most important way to do it.”
The program originally began in January and was available during daytime classes only, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The addition of the new hours allows students and faculty who study and work in the evenings to take advantage of the facility.
“I’ve looked at a lot of daycare centers when I first moved here. It was really hard to find one. Especially with a younger kid,” said Jamie Stolp, a tutor in the South City Campus reading lab and mother of a 2- year-old daughter who loves the facility. “And just the facilities here are way above and beyond comparable price. They have so many things for kids.”
The facility offers a wide range of books and toys to stimulate a kid’s imagination, as well as an outdoor playground complete with a sandbox, play houses and tricycle path.
“I know it sounds like a small thing but when your potty training kids for instance they have the little toilets and it’s just so much easier for them and to have people willing to help with that too,” said Stolp.
The kids will also enjoy a wide variety of activities set up by the instructors. Television will not be part of the curriculum, but art, science, and growing the kid’s own vegetable garden will. The kids enjoy the company of each other as they learn and play under the direction of well-trained instructors.
“We’re going to do a real structured program. It’s going to start with free play to get them involved as they first come in. Then we’re going to do outside time for as long as we can,” said “Miss Diane”, an evening teacher at the facility. “We have bikes to ride…they love to hook the wagons to bikes and take each other for rides. They can burn off some energy, go right to sleep, and parents will be thrilled.”
The staff at the facility takes great pride and affection with the work they do. Each child is given the special attention he or she needs from the staff, and they are more than happy to expand their numbers as needed to keep up such attention.
“To a parent, their child is the most wonderful, beautiful important possession they have. And I know that. And I’m going to take care of them,” Miss Diane said.
Parents aren’t forgotten in the facilities curriculum. Once a month, the facility hosts a parent’s night to give the parents a chance to spend time with their kids. Some month’s, free dinner is provided to parents as well as an activity bag with a free book and activities for the kids, giving the parents one night without worrying about dinner or entertainment. Other times, a special night is set aside where the parents can participate in activities at the facility with the kids and take a break from the worries of school and home.
“This place was created specifically to help students be successful at their educational goals. And the children that come here are our future students; we have to take care of them from the beginning. I don’t run a center unless it’s high quality. I have an amazing staff. We work here because we love children. And we want to support these students and help them do the things they want to do for their children and the only way to do that is through education,” said Orton.