By Mia A. Varnado
It appears the Wilson College childcare center has reached the end of its rainbow as it announced the permanent closure of its daycare center. The closure is scheduled for May 28th, 2021. Student parents and community patrons were made aware of this decision via a distributed letter from college president Dr. Fugate on Friday, March 26th as children were being picked up.
Patrons of the center were told the decision was made by the board who cited the finical strain caused by covid-19. This announcement was accompanied by rumors of the closing being a sign of the end of the SPS program.
Many student parents were in shock and alarmed after the announcement due to the major selling point of the Single Parent Scholar Program being the childcare on campus. This left several students wondering if their college careers were in limbo.
Over the weekend that followed the Friday announcement, student moms were observed (first hand) in a state of panic, speaking to family members and friends, even each other about what to do and other options.
Nija Simmons reported that she knew something was “suspect” due to a teacher very prominent teacher (whom she was told had been with the college since 2005) announced her departure to a different job but that she “had no idea that it would be the daycare closing”
Fears, whispers and gossip had all but ceased that following Monday when the director of the Single Parent Program (Katherine Kough) announced that the college intends to pay for the moms to send their children to off-campus daycare centers. Upon speaking with Ms. Kough, she avidly stated that “there is a separate endowment for student parents to have daycare costs covered and wants it to be noted that this should show (to those concerned) strong faith in the continuance of the Single Parent Scholar Program”
Being a business major, from a financial standpoint, in my opinion, this is a sound decision that cuts unnecessary and unexpected costs creating a more stable budget that would now allow funds that would have been spent on daycare staff, licenses, insurance, and other recurring costs to be allocated to other needed expenses for the college. https://youtu.be/GjXP1Y1EfrQ
Not all student parents have a vehicle but this school year, before the closure decision was made, there were two students who entered the program that did not have vehicles and now have no way to get back and forth to the off-campus daycares. Leslie Gandy spoke briefly with me saying “this decision leaves her the only option which is to leave the program and find another way to continue her education.” She is not the only mother who had to make this decision but the other one could not be reached of comment before publication.
This new option for the rest of the parents works because student parents are strongly encouraged to have a vehicle when they enter the program. More questions have swirled around about how the recent decisions impact the program’s future as far as who is accepted, and the true answer is that nothing changes. It is assumed that candidate consideration may add to its transportation by making it mandatory for students to have their own vehicle.
Another major question is how parents will take any needed three-hour night classes in the future with no option of night care and the school not offering zoom to class options. For the veteran moms and even those not affected by the closure, this question still leaves moms very worried.
Although nothing has been figured out for that issue. It is expected that someone will reach out and speak on what options are going forward. What is known is that “the college does not pay for unlicensed child care” Ms. Kough states and according to Pennsylvania licensing laws daycares cannot run after the time they are licensed to run. https://www.dhs.pa.gov/providers/Child-Care/Pages/Child-Care-Regulations.aspx
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