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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Baby steps for UB Child Care Center

In a hidden corner of UB North Campus, just beside South Lake Village, is a small building. It isn't a place meant for UB students. Instead, this establishment - often been overlooked by the UB community - is for toddlers and infants.

The UB Child Care Center (UBCCC) offers care for the children of faculty, staff, students and families in the local community who range in age between six weeks to 5 years old, according to Kathi James, director of UBCCC North Campus. UBCCC was set up in 1985 on UB South Campus with the North Campus site opening later on in 1998.

Children at UBCCC are taught everything from math skills to social studies and even open-ended art. One thing the center promotes is "hands-on learning."

This doesn't just apply to the kids but to the interns who work there, too.

Kiki Liang, a senior health and human services and psychology major, is an intern at UBCCC and said her experience working has been nothing short of rewarding. She said the internship had given her a practical experience to "connect theory to actual work."

"You have to really experience it to know if you like or love being with kids," Liang said. "Talking about something is not enough. You hear people talking about the job but it's not the same as you being here. It's different."

Liang recalls her fondest memory at the center to be on her third day of work, when a child called out to her once she had arrived. She felt "touched" and said seeing the kids smiling and calling out her name makes her bad days much better.

UBCCC is open from 7:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Monday through Friday. The center is customer-based and allows parents to pick between the option of sending their child to UBCCC on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or Tuesdays and Thursdays, James said.

"We have an open-door policy," James said. "[Parents] can come during the day and see their children. Mothers who are nursing can come in and feed their babies."

James said she would consider herself lucky to be able to leave her office and spend her hour break with her child. She said it's comforting to know her child is close by.

The center has 55 permanent staff members with approximately 20 additional people in the form of work-study students and substitute teachers. James emphasized the center's ability to provide "high-quality care during the day" due to its good "teacher-to-child ratios" that allow children to get sufficient attention.

James believes the center benefits from its diverse staff and children.

"Our teachers come from many different backgrounds," James said. "Our children are the same. Many of them are bilingual. There's a huge cultural aspect and that just enriches the environment in each of the classrooms so that's what they do all day ... we accept everybody."

The staff members of UBCCC recently do something special for their kids.

This past Saturday, the center held its inaugural annual fundraiser, the Family Fun Walk, which drew a large crowd. The fundraiser started off with a 3-mile walk around the bike path and families returned for games and a healthy lunch. UB Dental and UB Pharmacy were also at the event, giving information and free prizes to the children, according to Ashley Orcutt, one of the center's lead teachers for toddlers.

The health-themed fundraiser drew a crowd of 261 people and raised over $4,000 - double the expected amount, Orcutt said.

Orcutt and Melissa Summers, another lead teacher for toddlers, organized the event.

Summers believed the walk went really well, especially for the first year. The turnout was bigger than what Summers expected and she is exited to host the Family Fun Walk again next year.

"With all the New York State funding, it's hard to get money now because teachers are getting cut from districts and stuff so the money we used to have isn't the same ... we're just trying to be creative with resources and everything," Orcutt said.

Both Orcutt and Summers want UBCCC to be more involved in the UB community. Summers hopes having this walk every year will inform the UB community of their existence and success.

James believes UBCCC is a huge benefit for the people who work on-campus because of how comforting it is to know their children are close by.




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