HJC child care center could open in fall

May 09, 1997


Staff Writer

Beth Raich's son already had started school when she was an undergraduate at Hagerstown Junior College from 1979 to 1981.

Still, the mother in her can appreciate the value of making on-campus child care available to students and staff, said Raich, of Hagerstown, now back at HJC taking a continuing education class.

"There's a definite need for a place where they feel their child can be cared for in a safe and secure environment," said Raich, who supports HJC officials' plan to transform the Student Center into a child care center.

It could be a reality by fall, said college officials, who envision the 3,300-square-foot area filled with enough kid-sized furnishings and staff members to accommodate at least 28 children ages 3 to 6.


Most Maryland community colleges offer on-campus child care, said HJC President Norman Shea, who said he has been trying for about eight years to get a child care center built at HJC.

Shea said he thinks the college's lack of child care is a deterrent to potential students, especially single parents.

Good, safe, affordable child care is high on the college's list of needs, he said.

To keep it affordable, the college will run the center rather than use a private contractor that would have to turn a profit, Shea said.

The plan is to operate the center from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. to accommodate both day and evening students and staff, who could use its services on an as-needed basis, he said.

The renovation is in the early planning stages, Shea said.

Cost estimates range from $100,000 to $200,000 at this point, he said.

A major part of the expense will be remodeling the bathrooms, said David B. Cole Jr., director of student services and coordinator of the project.

Other costs include new furniture, portable walls, special equipment and supplies, Cole said.

Given the space, Cole said he expects the center will accommodate 28 to 30 children.

He said he's not sure yet how many staff members will be required.

A child-care center would tie into HJC's academic program by offering observation and internship opportunities to students in the early childhood program, Cole said.

The school will be without a Student Center until at least 2000, when the new Learning Resource Center is finished and the current library becomes the new Student Center, he said.

The majority of students probably won't miss it, said Shea, who said the lobby of the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center has become a much more popular place to spend time between classes.

Students also have the library and cafeteria, he said.

The decision should be based on what's needed more, a Student Center or child care, said Eric Gerber, a part-time student from Waynesboro, Pa. If it's a child care center, Gerber, 26, said he has no problem sacrificing the Student Center as long as students have somewhere else to go.

The Herald-Mail Articles