TAMIU Provides Daycare Services for Student Parents
Texas A&M International University has experienced changes in its
student body over the past few years -- including an increasing number
of student-parents who would not have been able to attend TAMIU if a daycare
facility were not available on campus.
According to Dr. Miroslava Vargas, associate professor and Child Development
Center (CDC) coordinator, the Center is mandated to serve only students'
children, and when space allows, children of staff and faculty.
"The Child Development Center is a place where children develop
independence, self-confidence, initiative, and evolve a positive self-image.
The Center serves many purposes for children, parents, and staff. Children
experience an enriched learning process, parents know their children are
in a safe educational environment, and staff learn from children by re-developing
and re-defining the teaching and learning process," added Dr. Vargas.
Vargas emphasized the Center was created with the principle of serving
the University community and affords quality educational services in accordance
with an emergent curriculum.
"The Center's program focuses on the total development of the child
based on his or her needs. The Center also seeks to create an atmosphere
in which children can develop language, cognitive and social skills as
an integral part of their total growth potential," explained Vargas,
"It is through exploration and manipulation of materials such as
clay, paints, paper, sand and blocks that children expand their senses
of control over their environment. In contrast to traditional classroom
approach, the teacher is a facilitator that guides children to discovery.
We want children to feel good about themselves and develop a sense of
trust in their abilities."
The University's CDC accepts children with special needs once the parents
have submitted the necessary Individual Instruction Plans (IEP) for the
child. The staff also works with parents to better understand how to tend
to their child's particular requirements.
In addition to meeting childcare needs, TAMIU's CDC is a total experience
for Early Childhood Education majors by providing them with a background
and fieldwork experience.
"While the Child Care Access Means Parents In School (CCAMPIS)
Program used to be the only source of financial aid for the Center, the
South Texas Workforce Development Board was generous in providing a lump
sum of money to supply uniforms, carry out training, and cover the cost
of a full-time coordinator," stated Vargas, "Also, the Meadows
Foundation has kindly donated money to help complete all the work needed
at the Center and the Ed Rachal Foundation assisted with funds to purchase
indoor and outdoor equipment."
The Center selects its staff only after they have satisfied stringent
requirements established by the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory
Services. These include a tuberculin test, an affidavit, a criminal record
check, orientation to Minimum Standards, orientation to discipline and
guidance, orientation to the Center's policies and job responsibilities,
and an eight-hour pre-service training for those that do not have any
previous experience with child care. CPR and First-Aid are also required
for the CDC staff.
The Center is currently licensed by the State of Texas, and while it
holds no accreditations, it may in the future as the initial steps have
been taken. In order to become accredited, the Center has to follow the
guidelines established by the National Association for the Education of
Young Children (NAEYC).
"Now we just have to be consistent in implementing a developmentally
appropriate curriculum and in providing a safe and healthy environment
for our children," explained Vargas.
Requirements for enrollment include undergraduate students enrolling
in a child development course, which helps them understand the theory
implemented in the Center. Graduate students need not enroll in a class
if they can show they have taken a psychology class. Parents must also
submit a copy of the child's updated immunization record. Once registered,
parents pay a minimum fee of two dollars per hour and by blocks of time.
The Center provides workshops and open-house sessions where these students
can come and acquire information.
When asked where she would like to see the TAMIU's CDC ten years from
now, Dr. Vargas said, "We are an international University and it
is ideal for developing a model for early childhood education that embraces
the uniqueness of a child and nurtures their development to the fullest.
It would be a model for others to follow when we believe in equity for
all. We can certainly implement the emergent curriculum as this goal is
not beyond our reach."
For more information, please call Roxanne Gonzalez, full-time coordinator,
or. Mayra Blanco, part-time coordinator, at 326.2001.
CDC office hours are from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.
Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests
and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information
Services at firstname.lastname@example.org