University of Wisconsin-River Falls

News Source

Oct. 20, 2003


Toddlers Help Break Ground for New Daycare Center

Some 30 toddlers decked out in yellow hard hats and armed with yellow sand buckets and shovels helped break ground on Monday for a new $1.1 million day care center at UW-River Falls.

After singing two songs for an assembly of about 125 persons, the toddlers dug into a sand pile decorated with balloons as dignitaries armed with shovels turned over clods of grass near by.

The youngsters are enrolled in the University day care program, and come next July they will be enjoying an open-space C.H.I.L.D. Center on the east end of campus.

Paid for entirely through student fees and grants, the 7,800-square-feet facility will boast an open central play space surrounded by six classrooms for children ages six weeks to 12 years, and be able to provide services for up to 96 children.

Lead architect Jan van den Kieboom with Workshop Architects of Milwaukee noted at a breakfast preceding the ground breaking that he sought to create "a building that is a joy to children."

The facility will be bathed in natural clerestory light through a pitched roof line that Kieboom described as similar "to two hands coming together to shelter the children."

Speaking at the ceremony were Chancellor Ann Lydecker; Dean Connie Foster of the College of Education and Professional Studies; Rene Bylander, an alumna and parent of a day care youngster; State Rep. Rob Kreibich (R-Eau Claire); and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls).

Foster noted that the program uses elementary education majors and early childhood education minors to supplement the center's staff. Other majors who will work with the children include those in early childhood education, communicative disorders, social work, counseling and school psychology.

"There is great potential to impact our education programs" through placing student teachers in a field-based experience, an ability to observe them as they are learning, and also providing jobs for students, Foster said.

Bylander, who now is a computer program specialist managing the child care subsidy program in Dakota County, as a student was instrumental in convincing student leadership to fund the new C.H.I.L.D. Center. As a non-traditional parent with a child at the daycare, she noted "knowing my son was close by and well-cared for eased my mind and allowed me to concentrate on my studies. I knew he was in a stimulating environment."

Kreibich called the Center, which also will be available to community residents, "a big coup for the community. This will be a real center for educational excellence." The chair of the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities applauded the University for leading the way by example on building the collaboration that led to the center.

Harsdorf, who accepted the building on behalf of the state, said she was pleased that the University is ensuring "exciting things are happening on campus; that people not only think about new ideas, but make them happen."

"We have a place that we know is going to be a safe learning environment for our children."

The new childcare center is funded with student fees and grants without any state tax dollars. Students voted to use these fees to provide funding for the building. The University received a $100,000 federal grant called Childcare Access Means Parents in School. It will help with the continuing operation of the facility, especially paying for student help.

The design for the building was created by Workshop Architects in association with Moody/Nolan Architects from Milwaukee.

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