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Citicorp child care center to be largest of its kind

February 15, 1997

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

Citicorp Credit Services Inc. is banking on an $8.6 million child-care center to help its employees better manage family and work demands.

The new 48,000-square-foot child-care center under construction at the company's campus north of Hagerstown will be the largest corporate-sponsored child-care facility in the country, company officials said at a press conference Friday.

The company's current child-care center - a 10,600-square-foot facility which serves 200 children - can't meet the demand from the company's nearly 2,300 local employees.

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Citicorp's new center will care for between 400 and 500 children. It is set to open in August.

The company will remodel the old center - which opened in 1990 - and use it for backup care, "almost-well" care for children mildly ill and unable to go to school, and after-school care.

"This facility will not only be the largest ... we have every intention of it being the best," said Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Michael J. Looney.

Citicorp has contracted with CorporateFamily Solutions to manage the care at the facility. Jackie Legg, that firm's vice president, said having child care at the job site benefits the company and its workers.

"Having your child nearby simplifies your life," she said. The closeness promotes parental involvement in the child's life and increases the workers' peace of mind, Legg said.

Looney said the center will help employees be more productive. "Our objective is to be viewed as the best place to work," Looney said.

The center was designed by Design Collective Inc. of Baltimore. "We wanted to make sure that it didn't feel like a school, that it didn't feel like an institution," Legg said.

Instead, the building will look more like a village set within a park. Planners want each module within the village to look like a home, not a school. Sinks, toilets and windows will be built child-size and at child-height. As the children grow, they will move into rooms and bathrooms customized to their age. Playgrounds will feature equipment appropriate to the age group in that part of the complex.

Children at the center won't be warehoused, company officials say. CorporateFamily has an education program called "World at Their Fingertips" that stresses active learning.

Citicorp's center is open from 6:15 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Only the company's employees can use the center, which charges $70 a week for infants and $38 a week for after-school care.

Paul Pittman, executive director of the Western Maryland Child Care Resource Center, praised Citicorp's plans. "I think it's very appropriate that this is being done on Valentine's Day. Child care is close to everyone's heart."

Citicorp subsidizes some of the operating costs for the centers and pays capital costs, company spokesman Phil Kelly said.

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