Child care center expanding into new building

Chris Bird, News Editor

Donna Jost, the Director of the Child and Family Center, has been optimistic about the childcare center being able to expand at some point, but she was thrilled when she was presented with diagrams and plans that showed her that the expansion was going to be a reality soon.

“It has happened so fast,” said Jost

A building that has been in use by the Penske Truck Leasing Company, who have been leasing the space from Madison College, is expected to become available space for Madison College. Fred Brechlin, Director of Planning and Construction Management, said that the college is “planning to start construction as soon as the Penske company is out of the building.”

Jost expressed that she was very appreciative of the support that the college has always strived to give the Child and Family Center through funding, scholarships for student parents, and the staff and space that are dedicated to childcare. When it was confirmed that the Penske building would be able to be used by the college, Jost was excited that the Child and Family Center was offered the space to expand.

“It’s going to look completely different when we’re done with it,” said Brechlin

The building will be remodeled to match other Madison College buildings in style, and the interior will be designed according to the needs of the Child and Family Center. In addition, 355 new solar panels will be placed on the roof of the building to save money and provide clean energy, and the space around the building will be turned into new parking and easy access points for the new space.

The new building offers the chance for the Child and Family Center to provide a “best practice environment” for the children, as Jost put it. Being able to design the space for childcare makes it much easier to for the staff to provide the best care possible.

There will be classrooms with radiant heating in the floors, to make sure children who spend more time crawling, or otherwise close to the ground, stay warm and comfortable. Classrooms will have dimmable lights, which can allow some parts to be dark and others to be light to allow some to be active and others to rest.

“Each class will have access to their own playground,” said Jost. These playgrounds, as well as the classrooms, will be designed with an age group in mind and will incorporate natural components like plants, sand, and grass. The children will be able to use shared play spaces as well, for those who may be more advanced and active, or may need less stimulation. The flexibility of the spaces will offer more chances to respond to each child’s needs.

“The biggest opportunity is we will be able to start serving infants and toddlers,” said Jost. The current Child and Family Care Center is able to have up to 30 children enrolled, and are not able to serve infants and toddlers. The new building, and more staff, will allow them to serve up to 50 enrolled children.

The presence of more staff, and a separate dedicated building will also bring more security and chances to improve the depth of care for each child. Each entrance can be easily observed by staff, and there will be easier drop off and pick up points for parents to use. The Child and Family Care Center is also planning on hiring a cook to help prepare meals in the new building which will allow for them to serve three meals a day.

Work is expected to start before summer, and Brechlin hopes to be done with the main construction by next fall. If things go smoothly, the Child and Family Care Center will be able to start moving in over next winter.

Jost shared that she was very appreciative of students and staff who are able to go to school, work, and deal with many responsibilities on top of caring for children. She is glad to have the support of the Madison College community, which helps the Child and Family Center serve those at the college who need them.