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Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1996

CHILD CARE CENTER AWAITS EXPANSION

August 17, 1996

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Finding private funding for an expansion of Hilltop Child Development Center at Kansas University continues to prolong the project.

Hilltop will have to put off ongoing plans for an expansion once again.

What began as a 1994 plan for an expansion seems indefinitely suspended until private funds are found.

"With private funding, you're talking about a donor, and we simply haven't found that donor yet," said David Ambler, vice chancellor of student affairs.

"I think you have to find someone who has a connection with the university. I think you need to find someone who has a connection with the need for child care. And I think you need to find someone who might have also gone to school while raising children and needed child care."

Although KU Student Senate members voted for a $2 annual fee through the year 2000 to support Hilltop's expansion, only about $500,000 will be generated by the fee.

Ambler said that amount is obviously not enough.

"The bottom line is that $2 for six years is inadequate for beginning the project," Ambler said. "It's paid every semester, and that includes the summer semester. ... The money is accumulating, but it is not sufficient to begin construction."

The need for a new facility for the nonprofit facility is apparent.

With a waiting list of more than 230 children, a new building would allow Hilltop to serve more children of students, KU faculty and staff members and the community.

"We encourage people to get on the (waiting) list when their child is three months old," said Hilltop director Pat Pisani. "I do have people who want to apply even before their children are born. People really want their child to be at Hilltop."

Pisani said the widespread reputation of Hilltop's child care program comes from the center's basic philosophy.

"We emphasize what we call developmentally appropriate education," Pisani said. "It's not day care and in fact, if you say day care around here, you'll see shoulders go up. They're learning from the moment they come in here every day."

In addition to providing an educational-based child care program for children, Hilltop is also a child development research and training center.

Hilltop employs 20 full-time staff members and 30 to 35 KU students employed part time.

Although Hilltop has a rather long waiting list for all-day child programs, Pisani said there are currently some half-day program openings in community schools.

Hilltop also will be providing before- and after-school programs this year at Sunflower and Centennial schools.

"We started a program at Sunflower in January 1995, and we will do one at Centennial in August," Pisani said. "We're hoping for 20 to 25 children at each of the programs."

Pisani said she hopes that members of the Board of Regents would continue to keep a Hilltop expansion in mind and that a new building could be built soon.

"We're sort of leaving it in their hands," Pisani said. "We're more hopeful, but it won't be a new building for a while."

Ambler said the Hilltop expansion project was a top priority for Edward Meyen, former executive vice chancellor.

Meyen was relieved of his position on July 1, but Ambler said he would continue to work for a resolution of the project.

"I can tell you that it was a priority with Dr. Meyen and that it is something that he worked hard for," Ambler said. "So I'm going to be continuously working to bring this project to a resolution as quickly as I can."

Ambler said that a specific site for the new facility has not yet been determined, but the Stouffer Place area of campus is a possibility.

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