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Published: Saturday, 3/16/2013

Child-care center’s closure stuns parents

Owens cites costs; 94 children affected

BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Melissa Todd was surprised Friday morning to learn that when her husband dropped her son off at the Owens Community College Child Care Center on the Perrysburg Township campus, he was given a letter explaining the center will shut its doors June 30.

“I'm upset about this,” Ms. Todd said, noting the center has a superior program. “The day-care preschool at Owens is outstanding. I am tired of seeing excellence pushed aside for institutions to cash [in] on more heavily subsidized programs.”

Accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs, the facility cares for children between the ages of 6 weeks to 8 years and serves students, faculty, staff, and the community.

There are 94 children currently utilizing the center’s resources.

In addition to being a care center, the building also serves as a technology and learning lab for the training and mentoring of the college’s Early Childhood Education students.

When she picked her son up from the center on Friday afternoon, Ms. Todd said many others were surprised by the news.

“It’s pretty much just a surprise for everybody there,” she said, adding that some were “tearful.”

Although the letter didn’t provide options for finding replacement child-care centers, Ms. Todd said this won’t affect her family.

“It’s not an issue for us,” she said, explaining that her son will start elementary school in August.

Owens spokesman Brad Meyer said the center is closing in response to financial issues.

“In order to maintain the high level of quality in our facilities and services, the college has been required to subsidize operations and the college is no longer able to absorb those financial losses, while maintaining the quality services that parents expect to receive,” he said.

Mr. Meyer said for the 2013 fiscal year, which runs July 1, 2012, through June 30, financial losses for the child-care center on the Toledo-area campus will “exceed approximately $340,000.”

Tuition rates for the center depend on a multitude of factors, such as the child’s age, payment source, and whether the contract is for a full year or a semester.

The letter also said the college “will continue to work with the affected employees through the planned closure period,” although Mr. Meyer said no decision had been made about their status.

The center has three administrative employees, a kitchen manager, and 11 regular classroom teachers.

But after the doors close, the future of existing employees remains up in the air.

Mr. Meyer said the closure will not affect students who use the facility as a training lab. They are permitted to work in other facilities to meet learning requirements.

Ms. Todd said she heard the center would be turned into an autism learning center, but Mr. Meyer said the college has not announced details about that option. The letter sent to parents by the college did not specify future plans.

“No decision has been made in determining how the child-care center will be repurposed in the future,” he said.

As of yet, the campus is not helping parents find alternative services, Mr. Meyer said.

Ms. Todd said the decision leaves her feeling like there is “no long-term planning and no community investment.”

“I’m sure a lot of other parents are upset,” she said. “I find it really frustrating.”

Contact Kelly McLendon at kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @KMcBlade.



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