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18 September 2007

Pollock Child Care Center adds full-time preschool classroom at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College

Three-year old Robin’s preschool class grew zucchini and sunflowers this summer. Four-year old Gabryel’s class grew Swiss chard…five-year old Spencer’s class can’t wait to see the pumpkins they planted for fall.

Chandra and David were fascinated by a beautiful butterfly. Soon they were building a butterfly habitat, hatching their own, and planning the culminating event of setting them free.

Children learn by doing at The Grace Pollock Child Care Center on the Harrisburg Campus of HACC. Parents from Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties are among the students taking classes at Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, and find affordable child care right on campus.

For HACC students Jason and Amie Peters of Harrisburg, the center has had a dramatic impact on their family’s lives.

“We are totally confident in the staff at The Pollock Center,” says Amie, a social services student. The parents also say they appreciate that this is a teaching environment – for the children and the pre-service early childhood students.

Confident that their son, Gabryel, a toddler, was in good hands, both Jason and Amie returned to school after 10 years.

Gabryel enjoys telling people, “We all go to HACC!”

This fall marks the beginning of year three for the 12,000-square-foot state-of-the-art Pollock Center. “The new facility opens up exciting opportunities to add programs and partner in new ways with the community,” says Winnie Richards, center director.

“With five classrooms already in full swing, we’re thrilled to be able to offer a sixth this fall,” says Richards. The new classroom, a full day preschool, has a capacity for 20 children.

Getting started

In 1977, HACC’s Student Government Association partnered with the community college to subsidize child care on campus. Begun as an affordable and convenient play center for student parents, the program had only one classroom and served 15-20 children ages 3-5 years. Prior to the opening of the center, any HACC students still in need of quality, affordable child care, were forced to drop out of classes temporarily.

In the early 1990s, HACC staff members began to ask for child care, and a second classroom was added, with services expanded to include 2-year-olds.

Again in 2002, as student demographics changed and dental and health care program enrollments increased, so did the need for child care and classroom space. Program licensing was the first step. Parents in health programs often had to attend trainings that exceeded the hours of campus child care. Licensing the center enabled parents to leave children for longer than four hours at a time. Next, the center partnered with HACC’s early childhood program giving education students a place to practice teaching in real child care situations.

The Grace Pollock Child Care Center, completed in 2005, solved a crucial space problem. Pollock of Camp Hill gave $500,000 for the construction of the new building. The center now houses six child classrooms, the college’s early education program, business offices, a training/conference and state-of-the-art observation rooms.

The college cafeteria has partnered with the center this year to provide hot lunch deliveries to participating families.

The playground has a floor made from recycled tires and is designed with safety features and separate play areas for children of all ages.

Classes share a vegetable, flower, and herb garden with raised beds. Last summer the young gardeners in the preschool sold their wares at the nearby Cooper Student Center, raising $130. When teachers asked, “What would you like to do with the money?” Gabryel’s eight-year old sister Deven, (school-age children up to 9 may take part in the summer program) suggested donating the money to a local shelter for needy women and children. This year, plant sales totaled $167. Again, the children voted to donate the proceeds to the Interfaith Shelter.

FYI:

The Grace Pollock Child Care Center on the Harrisburg Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is a licensed childcare center able to care for up to 82 children from infancy to kindergarten age.

Weekday hours are from 6:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuition ranges from $4/hour for infants to $3.25/hour for preschool children, thanks to continued financial support of the Student Government Association. Several payment options are offered to student parents. The new Perkins-funded grant allows for students in a career program to pay as little as $1 per hour.

HACC student parents, staff, and community members are welcome to register their children at The Grace Pollock Center.

The new sixth classroom is the Center’s first full-time, full-year classroom that is open to the community.

Fully licensed, the center also participates in the Keystone STARS Program, a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare initiative promoting quality child care service delivery.

For more information about the Grace Milliman Pollock Early Childhood Educatin and Childcare Center or opening availability, call the Center at 780-2605 or 780-2581 or you can send an email to Winnie Richards, director of child play services at the email address below.

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