Elda Perez, director of the Child Development Center, said the construction of the building is on target with office furniture and other items set to be moved to the substantially completed building by June 27.
Perez said as of May, more than 60 children have been registered by UTPA student-parents. At least half of the 42 slots allotted to children of staff and faculty have been filled as well.
“The students who have come into my office are excited and say that this is something that should have been done a long time ago. Most of the children who have been registered already will use the facility Monday-Friday full time,” Perez said.
UTPA students were given 70 percent of the 140 slots while 30 percent went to staff and faculty. The main objective of the center is that children of UTPA student-parents will get the first choice as far as admittance into the center Perez said.
The facility will provide a full-day environment for children, ages three months to four years, and will offer full-time, five-day care with three- and two-day options. The center will be using the High Scope Approach Curriculum for infants, toddlers and preschool. The curriculum will be planned on a weekly basis for each group. Perez said the program will address the needs of the whole child, taking into account all of their developmental needs: physical, social, emotional and cognitive.
The classrooms will also be equipped with nine computers for the children and center administrators. The computers were provided to the center by the UTPA Computer Center. Perez said with today’s technology, it is important children start using computers at an early age.
By July 1, Perez hopes to have an administrative associate and assistant director of program and curriculum, on board. She later plans to hire 11 full-time and 10 part-time teachers.
“I am looking for teachers who have a Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, a nationally recognized credential, because we are following the national standards set up by the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC),” Perez said.
The center will also follow the Texas minimum standards to obtain licensure from the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (TDPRS)-Child Care License. TDPRS will monitor the Child Development Center for compliance with the minimum standards for a licensed child care center.
“We still have to follow Texas minimum standards because they are the ones that are going to give us our license, but we also opted to go with national standards. We are looking from the very beginning to follow national standards so that when we are in existence for a year, we can apply for (national) accreditation,” she said.
UTPA’s Child Development Center will be one of the largest on a South Texas campus, south of San Antonio, with a child population of 140. Perez said Texas A&M-Kingsville University has a childcare center with a capacity of 60, The University of Texas at Brownsville has a facility with a capacity less than a 100 and South Texas College has no facility.
Perez said the center will be taking applications until spaces are filled, so she encourages individuals to apply as soon as possible. Applicants who do not make the list this semester will be put on a waiting list. For more information, call 956/381-2469 or visit www.utpa.edu/ess/childcare/