It has been almost two years since former CSU student and University Children’s Center employee, Jan Rogers, was arrested for advertising child pornography.
“The Jan Rogers case will have a long lasting impact,” said Mary Hamilton, executive director at the UCC.
Hamilton said following the case, the community became more concerned with sex abusers in positions of trust.
“Following the event, we continued to focus on caring for our children and our families,” Hamilton said. “We met frequently with parents and staff, provided a support group, counseling and reviewed policies and procedures with a group of parents and staff.”
Hamilton also said it is important for parents to create child awareness on the issue.
“Parents should listen to their children and create an atmosphere for open dialogue, as well as teach awareness of appropriate and inappropriate touch, be involved at their children’s schools and get to know the children’s teachers and caregivers,” she said.
Although the Rogers case had a great effect on the UCC, the center has remained more than just a day care.
Emily Campbell, a senior history education major, said she has a hard time going to school and balancing her schedule with a child, but she has found a solution in the UCC.
“I would absolutely recommend the UCC (to all students,” she said. “It is convenient in location and beneficial to me and my child.”
The UCC provides educational programs and services for parents and children at CSU.
“Mommy, I went on a field trip today and had so much fun,” Campbell’s 3-year-old son, Ethan, tells her after a day at the center.
When comparing the UCC to other daycares, Campbell said there is a huge difference.
“It is not just babysitting at the UCC. It is a lot more educational than that,” she said. “I have a hard time getting him to go home at the end of the day,” Campbell said.
The center offers infant, toddler and preschool/pre-kindergarten programs.
“The UCC offers daily care for children, as well as encouraging learning through discovery,” Hamilton said.
CSU students, faculty and staff are welcome to bring in children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years.
“The center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and provides children with a hands-on, active learning curriculum,” Hamilton said. “Playing in a group provides children with opportunities to learn how to share, take turns, cooperate and solve problems, while playing with materials and participating in activities that are designed, or selected especially for young children, (and) helps them develop early reading, writing, science, art, math and other skills.”
Hamilton said these activities, along with field trips and guest speakers, broaden each child’s experiences and are springboards for later learning.
“Parents are provided with daily or weekly reports of their child’s activities, which help strengthen parent-child relationships and two-way communication between parents and staff,” she said.
Hamilton stresses the importance of parent participation and communication with both the child and staff at the UCC.
“Parents are definitely encouraged and welcomed to visit their child at the center as much as possible,” she said. “We strive to build strong partnerships with our families.”
The UCC also tries to help parents who may be struggling with finances and hectic schedules.
“Through our program and the Early Childhood Laboratories, CSU offers students the Child Care Access Means Parents In School grant, which provides tuition assistance for low-income parents,” she said.
The CCAMPIS grant is offered to Pell Grant recipients and other low-income students and is focused on reducing the amount of child-care and tuition costs.
“The grant was very helpful to me, and it greatly lowered the cost of child-care,” Campbell said. “It is also very easy to apply and become approved.”
If a parent is interested in applying to the center, an application form for both the UCC and CCAMPIS grant is available online at www.colostate.edu/programs/ChildrenC/
Along with the form, there is a $40 wait-list fee, which is refundable up until the time the child enrolls at the center.
Students from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies participate in practicum and intern placements at the UCC.
“We also employ part-time and work-study students at the center in addition to our full time, regular staff,” Hamilton said.
Kami McGary, a senior human development and family studies major, has done both her practicum and internship at the UCC and is currently substituting and helping out at the center.
“It’s a great center because it is helpful to both students and children,” McGary said.
McGary also said her experience at the UCC benefits her future career goals.
“This is the perfect job,” she said. “I want to work in this type of environment and with this age group after college,” McGary said. “I love teaching the children and I think it’s great that we can help build and strengthen their sensory motor skills through the activities we provide.”
Hamilton believes a child-care center should be much more than just a place to “drop-off” a child.
“Research on early brain development stresses the importance of appropriate stimulation for young children,” she said. “No matter what environment a child is in, we need to make sure they are provided with a stimulating, secure, predictable environment and the children at the UCC are guided by adults who are not only familiar and nurturing, but are well-qualified in helping children learn.”