child care

How a 5-Star Child Care Center on Campus Helps

By Ellen Ullman

North Carolina’s Halifax Community College fulfills the mission of making education and child care accessible.

The Halifax Community College (HCC) Child Care Center, a nonprofit organization licensed by the state of North Carolina, holds a five-star rating, the highest rating awarded by the state. The center has received national program accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, making it the only center in Halifax and its surrounding counties to have earned this status.

But what makes this center even more praiseworthy is its connection to the community — from HCC students to employees to others who might not otherwise be connected to the college.

The center opened in 1996 to provide the students studying early childhood education the opportunity to interact with preschool-aged children in an on-site facility. Enrollment has been near or at capacity ever since.

“There was a need for our students and for the employees,” says Arlene Moore, director of the Child Care Center. “We provide a foundation that allows for a lifetime of learning.”

A look inside the child care center

At capacity, there are 45 children, ages 2 to 5, and 10 staff members: three lead teachers, three assistant teachers, two floaters, a cook, and the director. Teachers hold an associate or bachelor’s degree in child development, early childhood education or a related field.

“We offer a variety of hands-on experiences for the children through creative arts, science discoveries, motor development, language activities, sensory activities, and dramatic play,” Moore says. “Everyone wants their children to come to HCC Child Care Center.”

Children of students are given priority during enrollment, followed by children of HCC employees. If the center is not full, it then opens up to the public. Tuition is $567 per month for each child.

Help toward completion

Having this essential care just might be what helps these students complete their degrees. Currently, there are 11 children of HCC students at the center. Moore says parents commend the center all the time, and many of them made sure there were available spots before registering for classes.

Students like the center’s webcams, which let them look in on the classrooms throughout the day, and love being able to attend classes and study while knowing that their children are just across campus.

Involvement with the college

Other HCC community members visit the Child Care Center, too. Moore says the GED students, executive board members and library staff love to come in and read to the children.

On October 30, the center will hold a Fall Fun Day. Employees from the local hospital will hold a presentation on the importance of fresh fruit; other campus and community members will read stories. The children will wear Halloween costumes and parade on campus. “We always like the HCC employees and students to see our children, as they are such an important part of the college,” Moore says. “They need to be visible.”

Another connection to the college community: HCC students in the early childhood program get to complete their student work in the center. Currently, four students come in every day; others come less frequently. They give suggestions for activities and offer input on lesson plans.

Students from Roanoke Valley Early College, a high school that partners with HCC and is housed on the college’s campus, also visit the Child Care Center as part of their career-development courses. Six students spend between 13 and 15 hours a week in the center, visiting different classes and assisting teachers.

HCC Child Care Center also partners with the Choanoke Area Development Association’s Head Start Program by blending classes of children from Head Start and HCC’s Child Care Center.

“We have a lot of community involvement, and I’m always looking for ways to do more,” Moore says.

Ellen Ullman

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.

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