Today: Feb 27, 2024

Childcare center offers care for the children of students

Lexi White- General Reporter

The struggle that parents deal with is already so difficult. Now, add that stress to a student or a faculty member, who may not have access to a generously priced day-care facility. That is why, on Jan. 30, 2023, the university opened the Childcare Center on campus. 

Executive Director of Healthcare Programs Michele Vancour began her research on the four state universities and compiled statistics of student and faculty parents. She then interviewed numerous parents on campuses, which revealed that childcare centers on campuses were vital. 

The university used to have this resource, but that facility closed in 1994. Since then, Vancour strived for an opportunity to bring childcare support to campus for new parents. The Childcare Center allows children up to 12 years old to be registered. 

The Childcare Center classroom for children of students.

“Through the United States Department of Education Grant, we were able to fund childcare centers on higher education campuses,” Vancour said. “Especially for single parents or students who don’t have a stable income or resources.” 

This grant also provided funds to the Childcare Center so that parents will have partial funding from the facility in support of staying in school and making progress to graduate. 

Heather Jimenez is the COMPASS Project Coordinator of the Childcare Center. COMPASS stands for Childcare Opportunities Means Parents Achieve Success at Southern.  

“We have sections for infants, toddlers and school age children,” Jimenez said. “We also have a quiet room for infants who need to nap, and then there is Alexis Lucibello’s office, who is our head teacher.” 

Ms. Lucibello provides activities and games for the children in the program. She also plans lessons every week of the semester to keep the children’s day organized. In addition, Ms. Lucibello sets up activities that can help children with their fine and gross motor skills. 

Jimenez also said that students and faculty who have been utilizing the program have been expressing tons of gratitude. Because of the Childcare Center, students can stay engaged in classes, academic activities and have more flexibility to move forward to get their degree. 

“I think that this has been a very positive experience for everybody,” Jimenez said. “One of the things we are looking to do is have some evening hours.” 

Faculty members who registered with the program are grateful for the Childcare Center because it allows them to teach classes and attend meetings without worrying about their child. 

“This is really a support system,” Jimenez said. “If they didn’t have this, they would have to take time off or have to pay more money for another facility that can be out of the way or basically less conductive than they need.” 

Parents can drop off their child to be watched for up to three and a half hours at a time, but they must stay on campus. The maximum capacity for children in the center at one time is 20, and many spots are open. 

The Childcare Center also holds monthly student parent programs with other departments on campus. 

“This past month, we held a workshop on how to help your child build their fine motor skills with household items,” Jimenez said. “Last semester, we did a stress and time management program for parents. Each month, we try to come up with a topic that is relevant to student parents.” 

To apply for the Childcare Center program, go to the university’s website to fill out the application and attach your child’s completed health forms. From there, Jimenez will contact you with Ms. Lucibello, who will give you the daily information for the program. 

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