By Melissa Engle/Assistant news editor
Some call it daycare. Some prefer the term childcare. Whatever the preference, it is almost extinct on “The Campus Beautiful.” Of the nearly 16,000 students enrolled at Eastern, about 2,000 of them have children. While the Burrier Child Development Center is on campus, it has a long waiting list and the cost may not be practical for the typical college student.
Eastern used to have a child care facility located where the Bluegrass Farmworkers Clinic is now housed, in Brockton, yet it only lasted for a year in 1997.
“There is a huge need. Faculty has the need. Students have the need. The community has the need,” said Dana Keller Bush, director of the Burrier Child Development Center.
Bush said the Burrier center is a nursery school for 3-year-olds, and parents place their children on the waiting list when they are born. Priority is given to full-time students, faculty and staff and then to the community. Parents may pay the tuition through the Office of Billings and Collections each semester. Tuition ranges from $337.50 to $675.
On the other hand, the former daycare center, Kids Company Early Learning Center, opened its doors for business on Aug. 18, 1997. It was established in response to the requests of faculty and students desiring assistance while they were working or in class.
“It was started to provide childcare for students, especially non-traditional students to drop their children off for an hour or two at a time,” said Rita Davis, a professor in the technology department who was involved in the start-up of the learning center.
“One situation we asked that they pay close attention to was to keep costs as low as they could,” Davis said. “I think they tried too hard.”
Davis said it was likely the reason the daycare did not renew the contract with Eastern was due to financial problems. She said starting a center is expensive considering the costs of insurance, maintenance to bring the building up to code in accordance with state standards and training workers.
Davis said it might have been miscommunication between students and faculty on their needs that led to a lower demand for the center.
“There wasn’t a real demand after it went in. The faculty wanted it to be a school and students wanted the child care,” Davis said. “Kids Company tried to accommodate all those needs.”
Davis added Eastern wanted its students, particularly those involved in childcare majors, to be able to intern at the center but this was not feasible due to the certification requirements by the state.
Kelley McBride, a senior public relations major, said she would not mind seeing a daycare center reestablished on campus.
“I think it would be very helpful if they have qualified people actually working with my kids and exposing them to books and things like that,” she said.
McBride, mother of two, said she was fortunate to be able to stay home with her children when they were younger, but many students aren’t that fortunate. The boys, now eight and 10, are both students at Model Laboratory School. She waited until they were going to school all day before she returned to college, and since her return she has met many other students who are in her situation.
“Maybe if they had help during a night class, since you usually can’t avoid taking one of those during college,” McBride said, “it wouldn’t be such a hardship on single parents.”
Students like McBride do have options for daycare in the Richmond area even if they do not on campus. There are nearly 20 centers in Richmond that care for all ages of children, mostly during the daytime hours.
Shawna Broaddus, director for the ABC Daycare and Learning Center, said her center cares for 220 children. Of those 220, at least 100 are children of Eastern students.
“We allow parents to drop them off and go to class and come back to get them throughout the day,” Broaddus said.
The costs of outside daycare can exceed the cost of the Burrier center. However, with outside care single parents or low income families can apply for federal money to assist with the costs as the Burrier center does not accept the federal aid.
Davis said even though the former daycare center was successful for a time, she does not envision another daycare opening on campus any time soon.
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