by Jeff Fox
It seems these days that it is harder and harder to feel like a kid again. The moment of wonder and excitement of a new idea seen in an adult’s eye? Talk to Bobbie Henderson about the new Child Development Center and one can find that look.
With construction slated to begin this summer on the new childcare facility, CDC Director Bobbie Mendenhall is excited to talk about the move to the state-of-the-art facility. The current CDC is approximately 800 square feet, and the new center will be a spacious 5,000 square feet. At the present facility all of the different age groups share the same room.
“One thing that you will notice is that you’ll see children that are eight years old all the way down to two years old, which is really a hard mixture. They just don’t belong together,” Mendenhall said. The new CDC will allow for the children to be divided into age appropriate groups and classrooms.
Several other highly anticipated features will be allotted by the spaciousness of the new CDC. “We will have a big piazza, so we will be able to have a lot of gross motor play,” Mendenhall says. Presently the CDC utilizes the multipurpose room or the aerobics room, but those rooms aren’t always available. Each group will also have their own play area adjacent to their classrooms. Add to this a large fenced outdoor play area, and the new facility should make nap time a welcome treat.
The new facility will also allow the CDC to serve more children. At present, CDC staff, student workers and education students help take care of the responsibilities at the center. “When we get to the new facility we will be able to enroll between 42 and 46 children at one time, so we may need some more staff, but that will come with enrollment,” Mendenhall said. Quite simply, as demand for childcare services increases, the CDC will provide the staff as required by state law.
Parents will also enjoy the conveniences, which will come with the new CDC. The new center will have a more accessible area for dropping off and signing in their children. At present parents must find a place to park, walk to the building, and come inside the CDC room to sign in their children.
The CDC provides breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and an evening snack to the children. Tentative plans include keeping the working relationship with AVI to provide the food for the children. Due to its new location, the CDC may need warming units for the food during transport. Details are still being worked out on the logistics of getting the food from the cafeteria area to the new CDC.
Plans are still being discussed to provide infant care at some time in the future. The original plans called for infant care, however, the area for infant care was removed from the CDC when the size of the new building was reduced. At present the CDC will serve children two and up, but if funding increases the CDC is designed for future expansion, which could provide room for infant care.
“The infant ratio in WV is one teacher for four infants … each teacher can watch eight two year olds,” Mendenhall said. Plus extra room is necessary for cribs and diaper changing stations.
“It is more expensive, but it is something that is needed, plus another good thing about having infants is that you have added stability,” Mendenhall added. This stability would come from being able to enroll the child as an infant, and allowing them to stay with one childcare program.
Mrs. Mendenhall also noted that many area day-care centers have extensive waiting lists. She was on 15 waiting lists, while she was looking for infant care. The rates at the CDC are extremely rare in the fact that they allow the parents to pay an hourly rate for their services. “Many other childcare centers in the area do not offer hourly rates, they say you pay for a weekly slot, whether the child is there or not,” Mendenhall said. Not only is the CDC affordable, but parents enrolled in college also have access to the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant, which helps pay for childcare for parents attending college. Several other state and local grants are available for parents, and the CDC can provide assistance to parents regarding the funding information.
The new CDC will also provide greater learning opportunities for students who are enrolled in the Early Childhood and the Elementary Education programs. This field experience helps with their pre-kindergarten certifications.
One thing is for certain; the new CDC will make the staff, students, and the children all a little bit more joyful and bring some wide eyes, when the doors open next year.