Children of students find care on campus

By Alyce Malchiodi

The Campus Child Care Center provides care for the children of NIU students, as well as those of faculty and staff.

Shirley W. Nelson founded the Campus Child Care Center ten years ago in Gabel Hall because she saw a need for child care, Center Director Chris Herrmann said.

The center’s main function is to help care for children of students who are attending NIU in either full- or part-time class loads, but faculty and staff members also use the facility. Herrmann said about 80 percent of parents using the center are students and 20 percent are faculty or staff.

Herrmann said there are nearly 100 children who are enrolled in the program. Most of the children are between one and six years old. Some of these children are enrolled in part-time status, while others are full-time. Children whose parents use the center part-time are charged $2 an hour, while the full-time rate is $14.50 a day.

However, there are many variations of the two basic fees, depending on numerous factors. One factor depends upon the number of siblings enrolled in the center. Parents can receive a discount if more than one of their children are enrolled at the center.

The center is open for part-time child care on a semester basis, while full-time care is available all year. Herrmann said the only time the center closes down is for a seven-day period during the Christmas season.

There are 30 NIU students who help supervise the children at the center, Herrmann said. Any student interested in working with children should go to the center and fill out an application, she said. The applicants will then be interviewed.

If the student is not part of university child care or education classes, they will be asked for references to make sure the student is qualified and can work well with children, Herrmann said.

Center employee and student Kim Zenner said the majority of students who work for the center are not enrolled in child care majors. Zenner said she is still undecided about her major.

Many child care and education classes use the center so their students can observe the children, Zenner said. In the fall, university students line up along the play yard fence to observe the children, she said.

The center is funded by student fees and goverment aid, Herrmann said. Eighty percent of the money is obtained by student fees, she said.

The center follows the philosophy children learn through play, Herrmann said. The center has areas for drawing, science and reading. Other areas include space for children to play with blocks, sand and paint.

Children are also taken outside to play on swings, in a sandbox and on a jungle gym. There is a lot of space for running and group play.

Many children said they enjoyed the sand and paints. The children are encouraged to play and interact together, but violent games, such as “war” are not tolerated, said an employee.

Zenner said when she first began working at the center last fall she was amazed at how well the boys and girls interacted together. She said the children treat each other equally.

The center helps to ease the minds of some parents who work or seek higher education. Chris McGreevey, a mother using the center for the first time, said she is very pleased with the center and her son is happy with it, too.