Nov. 5, 2004
HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College, broke ground today for the Grace Milliman Pollock Childcare and Early Childhood Education Center on its Harrisburg campus. A special bonus to the ceremony was the small members of the groundbreaking crew - preschoolers equipped with shirts, shovels, pails and dirt, digging in to help start their new center.

On hand for the groundbreaking was Grace Milliman Pollock whose generous gift of $500,000 will be used in construction of the 10,000-square-foot state-of-the-art childcare and early education center. Capital campaign co-chairs Governor George Leader and Donald Schell, secretary for HACC's board of trustees, will offer remarks along with HACC President, Edna V. Baehre, Ph.D., David McLane, Ph.D., director of the Pollock Foundation and HACC Foundation board member, Rachel El-Mourli, a parent and HACC student and Danielle Narkin of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

The establishment of the center is also financed in part by a grant from the federal Department of Housing and Human Services, under the administration of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Architect for the project is L. Robert Kimball and Associates, in Harrisburg.

The new center will be able to care for more children, provide care for those as young as 6 weeks old, and offer extended hours. HACC has offered on-campus childcare since 1977, but this new facility will be three times the size of the current center. A completion date is set for fall 2005.

"Our average student age is 27, and approximately 25 percent have children under the age of 10. It is essential that we provide reliable, affordable childcare," said HACC President Dr. Edna Baehre. "The students who use our on-campus childcare facilities are much more likely to stay in school and finish their education."

In fact, Baehre said, more than three quarters of the students who currently use on-campus childcare say that they couldn't attend HACC without it.

The Grace Milliman Pollock Childcare and Early Childhood Education Center will be licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. It will feature age-specific classrooms for infants, young toddlers, older toddlers and preschool children.

A reading center for pre-school children will focus on literacy and reading and include a specialized library as well as learning aids such as puppets, storytelling boards, games and computers with developmentally appropriate software for self-paced learning.

Common rooms will allow for group activities for children from different age groups, and the center will feature two outdoor playgrounds with age-appropriate equipment.

The center will utilize the latest design models in early childhood development to provide children with a homelike environment in which they can learn and begin to prepare for school.

"As a real bonus, the new center will include a classroom and special observation rooms," said Baehre. "Those special facilities will enable our early childhood education students to observe actual classrooms and become better prepared when they move into the workforce."

The new childcare center is being built in conjunction with the Select Medical Health Education Pavilion since healthcare students now account for more than a quarter of the college's enrollment.

"Many of the students entering healthcare fields are parents - many entering second careers," Baehre said. "Those students have to complete both on-campus classwork and off-campus clinical experiences, and they need a safe place where their children can thrive."

The current Child Play Center cannot care for infants nor allow students to leave the children while participating in clinical rotations or other off-campus course-related obligations.

"We will be able to provide quality, flexible, and affordable childcare to parents who may not have other options," said Winnie Richards, director, HACC Child Play Center. "For many students most childcare options are either too costly or do not provide quality programming."

The new childcare center will be able to serve 100 more children each day for a total of 163 children per day. Hours of operation will expand to 7 a.m. through 10 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

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