The University of Texas-Pan American will break ground Tuesday, Aug. 17 for its newest facility - a Child Development Center - which will serve 140 little Broncs ranging in ages from three-months to four-years-old.
The Child Development Center, expected to open August 2005 will be located on Van Week Street just west of Fifth Street on the north side of campus where the UT System Texas-Mexico Border Health Coordination Office once stood. The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
"I think the center will lessen the tension for the students of having to worry about daycare, public schools and working," Perez said. "With this facility the students can bring their babies to the University instead of having to drive to daycare and back and getting to class. I think they will also be able to enroll in more classes and become full-time students instead of part-time and hopefully graduate in a shorter amount of time."
Perez said another center benefit is student-parents will be able to take advantage of University facilities, organizations and services since the Child Development Center will be open Monday-Friday from 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Michelle Alvarado, chair of the Childcare Task Force Committee and Student Financial Services director, said the main goal of the center is to serve UTPA student-parents first.
"The Child Development Center is primarily to serve our students with children. Thirty percent of the slots available in the center will go to staff and faculty," Alvarado said. "Hopefully in the future we will be able to expand our services to after-school children and evening and weekend services. The UTPA Child Development Center will be a wonderful place for children."
Alvarado said the center will assist UTPA in retaining and graduating student-parents by helping ease their childcare worries.
Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said the daycare center will give UTPA student-parents the opportunity to concentrate on their studies and courses, knowing their child is a few buildings away.
"The exciting aspect of this project is that it will positively affect some students, probably many even a parent whom we do not even know who is yearning to go to a university but cannot because of the child care issue. The center will be another way for us to open doors to a bright future for our Valley residents," Edwards said.
Tuition fees for the center will cost between $80-$90 a week for students and $85-$95 for staff and faculty, said Perez.
Before the current Childcare Task Force Committee was created, a Childcare Committee in 2001 had written a proposal and surveyed more than 1,000 UTPA students, staff and faculty about the feasibility of this type of facility on campus. Based on the survey, research and institutional records, approximately 20 percent of UTPA students have children, said Alvarado.
From the survey, participants said they wanted a center that offered a quality program and was low in fees, reliable, had flexible hours and was convenient.
The 2001 proposal was approved by the UTPA administration in 2002. The University of Texas System approved the project for $1.5 million with $1 million going to construction costs and the remainder going to operations, equipment and program purchases.
The 11,177-square-foot building is designed to accommodate 140 children and will feature 10 classrooms designated for infants, toddlers and preschool children. Also, the center features four playgrounds that have been subdivided for infants (12-18 months), toddlers (two-three years of age) and preschoolers (four-year-olds).
The facility will also feature a multi-purpose room that will serve as an indoor/outdoor play area and a presentation room. A mother's room for moms to breastfeed and bond with their infants will also be included in the plans.
Perez said observation windows and cameras will be installed in the classrooms for UTPA students and faculty looking to do research or observations in early childhood and for parents wanting to keep an eye on their child through the Internet.
Each classroom will have two teachers present at all times and the center will follow the national standards set by the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
To apply, student-parents must be attending UTPA full-time and be in good academic standing. Enrollment applications will be accepted starting February 2005.
For information, call Perez at 956/381-2469.