Groundbreaking ceremony held for child care center at HCC

Officials hope it will open in time for fall semester

January 25, 2000|By Alice Lukens | Alice Lukens,SUN STAFF

Marian Iglehart braved the cold yesterday morning to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for a $1.7 million child care center at Howard Community College -- and wished it had happened three years ago.

Iglehart, who plans to graduate this spring, will not benefit from the child care center, which college officials hope will be open in time for the fall semester.

The 14,800-square-foot building will serve 122 children ages 6 weeks to 4 years. Students will pay on a sliding-scale basis, and those in HCC's early childhood development programs will use the center as a lab school.

Iglehart, who lives in Clarksville, entered HCC three years ago to study nursing. She got a full scholarship and grants to pay for all of her books, and yet she is $18,000 in debt -- money she says she has spent on child care over the past three years.

"I had to study listening to Disney videos all the time," she said, "and nursing is hard. The worst part is if it snows and it is delayed opening."

She said she has paid someone $20 a day to put her 5-year-old daughter on the bus so she could get to school on time.

About 70 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony, at which college officials gave speeches and local politicians wore hard hats and wielded shovels. The actual groundbreaking won't take place until later this year.

Mary Ellen Duncan, HCC's president, said child care has been one of her top priorities since she arrived a year and a half ago.

"One person after another said this is something that needs to be addressed at HCC," she said. "We know this will make a difference in terms of whether students can come to HCC."

The community colleges in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Montgomery and Prince George's counties have day care centers. The community colleges that do not offer day care tend to be in Maryland's more rural counties.

"This is going to help students an awful lot," Iglehart said after the ceremony. "It's just going to open doors to women. Long-term, we're going to get a better-educated populace."

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