Posted: 8/12/04

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 pais@tamiu.edu