Child care center promotes open spots despite full capacity

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Spots open if parents don’t meet state qualifications

By V.G. Garlisi

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Education freshman Amber Auclair holds the car door open for her son Brett, 3, while leaving daycare Sept. 30 at the early childhood development center. Alice, 5, came along to pick up her brother in his first semester of daycare. Photo by E. David Guel

Education freshman Amber Auclair holds the car door open for her son Brett, 3, while leaving daycare Sept. 30 at the early childhood development center. Alice, 5, came along to pick up her brother in his first semester of daycare. Photo by E. David Guel

Though this college’s child care center is full, it still accepts applications. Meanwhile, the public relations department’s weekly e-newsletters continued to promote “open spots” at the center until Sept. 24.

Applicants go on a waiting list, which currently has 10 students on it.

Kerry-Ann Nnamani, a computer engineering freshman, said she was unaware of the waiting list when she applied nearly three weeks ago.

“I’m a single parent of two and I don’t have anyone to help out, and with my daughter being so young, I’m scared to put her in day care,” Nnamani said. “My son didn’t start day care until he was able to talk so he could tell me if someone hit him.”

Teresa Robledo, an early childhood teacher at the early childhood center, said the program accepts applications all year even if they are full.

“We don’t have openings, but we continue to accept applications,” Robledo said. “Some parents drop because they cannot meet the requirements for the program, so we have a waiting list of student parents who are qualified.”

According to the application, students must complete five requirements to be considered for the reduced weekly rate of $25-$35.

They must attend parenting workshops, volunteer four hours each semester at the center, be enrolled in a minimum of nine credit hours, have parent-teacher conferences and have a GPA higher than 2.0.

The requirements are part of the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

According to Norma Padilla, student generalist in early childhood studies, the grant is based on income.

“We do an income tax assessment to determine if the student can receive the $25-$35 a week rate,” Padilla said. “We also have off-campus services since we are so full. Parents can take their children into these accredited institutions for our reduced rate.”

Padilla said students are disappointed when they are not able to secure a spot for their child.

A Sept. 24 e-newsletter from this college’s PR office announced: “We currently have spots open at our Child Care Education Center on W. Ashby for SAC students!”

The PR newsletter publishes the ad because the program accepts applications past its space availability, PR coordinator Lindsay Campbell said.

The Oct. 1 PR newsletter did not include the child care item.

Students who have children can apply to the Early Childhood Care and Education Assistance program or the Early Head Start program.

The early childhood studies program has 53 openings per semester for the children of incoming students at this college as well as 32 openings in the Early Head Start program.

All are currently full, and 18 children are in the off-campus service.

With the exception of a few students in the program, most parents are able to take advantage of the reduced weekly rate, Robledo said.

The full rate is $179 for a preschool child ages 3-5 to $191 for infants and toddlers up to age 3.

The price difference is based on the amount of care required per child.

Dr. Ellen Marshall, chair of early childhood studies, said younger children require around-the-clock supervision, changing tables and accessories as well as designated areas for the infants to rest.

Marshall said the center had to reduce its expenditures in 2009 because of the high cost of caring for infants.

The original estimated cost of the program was $800,000 to $900,000, Alamo Colleges District 9 trustee James Rindfuss said in an Oct. 16, 2009, Ranger story.

As a result, the early childhood center partnered with a federally funded program called Early Head Start.

The program’s aim is to provide children ages 0-3 with a stable environment where they can learn and be nurtured while away from home.

“We decided to partner with the Early Head Start program so that they could use our building and we would reduce our cost,” Marshall said. “They also strictly cater to SAC students, so that is a win-win for those on this campus.”

Mirka Cardona, an early childhood studies freshman, takes advantage of her major’s programs while she attends this college full time. She brings her 6-month-old daughter to the Early Head Start program.

“It definitely makes everything easier,” Cardona said.

“I find them more trustworthy, and communication is so great between teachers and parents, which I appreciate.”

Cardona is one of 85 students who take advantage of the program, but student parents on the waiting list must find alternative means for child care such as private day care services or relatives willing to look after the child.

Padilla said students must apply early, as soon as they enroll at this college, to secure a spot.

“We start accepting applications during open scheduling every semester,” Padilla said. “I recommend getting them in as soon as possible, because it takes at least three weeks to process applications.”

For more information, call 210-486-0500 or 210-486-0526.

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