Hospitals Child Care Center celebrates first anniversary

By Stephen H. Goldstein
UMH Child Care Center

The University of Michigan Hospitals Child Care Center, which observed its first anniversary last month, offers a unique multicultural environment for children from infant to preschool age.

Perched on a hill on Glazier Way just west of Huron Parkway, the sprawling, colorful one-floor building serves U-M employees and their children. The center opened Aug. 26, 1991, with the children of 80 families enrolled. Enrollment has grown to children from more than 150 families.

The center’s program is now large enough to offer summer camp and monthly multicultural fairs. The children and their parents recently enjoyed individual and classroom photo sessions.

“We focus on meeting a family’s needs,” says Director Marsha Kneessi. The center is open 6:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and is only closed for eight holidays each year.

Kneessi says the center offers secure ratios of trained teachers to children—one-to-three for children to 24 months of age, one-to-four for two- and three-year-olds, and one-to-seven for children ages three to five. Team teaching is the approach in each classroom.

Almost all staff members have a four-year degree in early childhood education or related studies, and all teachers have been trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid, Kneessi says.

Parents participate in an advisory board, two for each age group, and may visit their children’s rooms freely throughout the day.

Denise Mareki, a parent representative on the center’s advisory board, says: “We’ve been really happy with the center. Our little guy (Mitchell)—who is three—has really blossomed there. He tells us who his friends are, and he tells us the teachers also are his friends.

“The teachers are really experienced,” Mareki adds. “They anticipate conflict before it happens.”

She also says a distinguishing feature of the Child Care Center is its design from the start for child care.

Both Mareki and Will Chamberlain, whose wife Jenny also is on the advisory board, say they like the windows designed so the young children can see outside.

“Children deserve a chance to see outside, too,” Chamberlain says. He brings his daughter Kate to the center each morning, and Jenny picks her up. Kate was born July 1991, about a month before the center opened.

“As a father, I felt extremely comfortable—like taking her to a friend,” he says. “There were days when I didn’t feel like leaving, and I just knew she was getting excellent care. It’s a wonderful development process for her.”

The staff, he continues, “is very open and willing for parents to stay there. I always felt that when I left (for the day), the teacher’s primary focus is on Kate.”

Mareki says the advisory board meets bimonthly, and “I think we as parents have been able to offer good advice, and we have developed an appreciation for how the place is run.”

The center currently has a few openings in the morning preschool program. For information, call 998-6195.


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