Day care provides research, work prospects for students

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October 6, 2009

12:47 AM

Where can you find a place at the College of William and Mary that provides snacks, arts and crafts projects and scheduled naps? It may sound like a college student’s dream class, but it is actually the Williamsburg Campus Child Care — the on-campus childcare facility here at the College.

The center originally opened in 1981 at an off-campus location. It moved to the Sarah Ives Gore Center in 1992, located behind the admissions office on Jamestown Road. WCCC operates from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and cares for approximately 50 children, ranging from infant to pre-kindergarten age.

Ninety-two percent of children enrolled in WCCC are children of faculty, staff or students at the College. However, there is no differentiation between faculty and student parents, and everyone is billed equally, according to the WCCC Director Janet Yang.

“[The program is a] response to the need of parents for childcare,” Yang said. “There’s not a lot of childcare, especially for infants and toddlers, in Williamsburg, and with an increasing number of families with two working parents, there is always a need.”

The WCCC, in addition to providing childcare for the College, provides jobs and internships for students. The staff includes 15 students, nine of whom have worked there for at least one year. Yang said she has noticed a sharp increase in job applications, and even though all positions are filled for this semester, she already has a list prepared of applicants to hire once current employees graduate. Most student employees only work part-time but still find they are able to form connections with the children.

“There is something rejuvenating in working with kids,” Mary Ingram ’10, a former employee of WCCC, said. “I don’t see how you could ever work at WCCC and fail to have a rewarding experience.”

While undergraduate students compose most of the center’s staff, WCCC is also connected with the School of Education. Amanda Geder M. Ed. ’07 works as the Family Involvement Coordinator at WCCC, with responsibilities like forging relationships with parents and organizing parent volunteers. Entering her second year as Family Involvement Coordinator, Geder said parental involvement is something she is interested in studying and facilitating.

The center provides resources for those interested in the fields of child care and education. Ingram said her reason for pursuing the WCCC job was because she is potentially interested in working in child and developmental psychology.

“We can provide valuable experience for those interested in the education field,” Yang said.

Every semester, professors work with WCCC to arrange projects or observation settings. According to Yang, students log more than 1,000 hours of research at the center each year. Projects usually work easily, as long as certain guidelines are followed, such as obtaining parent permission. Developmental psychology classes commonly conduct research projects through WCCC, but even anthropology and public speaking classes have utilized the resources that WCCC can provide.

“A public speaking class had a project to select an age-appropriate book and read it aloud to children at the center,” Yang said. “It was really interesting to see what students selected.”

The relationship between the College and WCCC is reciprocal ways. The WCCC utilizes on-campus resources just as much as students make use of center.

“We are always out and about on campus,” Yang said. “The Sunken Garden and Crim Dell Bridge, as well as Colonial Williamsburg are great for the children.”

The center has even formed a relationship with the College bookstore, which provides special story times for the children at WCCC. Overall, the WCCC offers quality care for children and easy, accessible options for working parents.

“There is never a dull moment working in this environment,” Yang said. “Every day is a challenge, but you know you are making a difference.”

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