For some students, getting accepted into a postsecondary program requires overcoming an array of hurdles, from passing entrance exams to applying for financial aid. Some students have another complication to consider: Who will watch their children while they’re in class?
Obtaining consistent and reliable child care was a major concern for January Boyd when she decided to go back to school three years ago. The Mableton mother had tried to take courses before, but each time it was difficult to find a good sitter for her daughter, September.
During her third week of studying cosmetology and barbering at Atlanta Technical College she learned that the school had an on-site child care center.
“When I heard about this program, I checked it out,” Boyd said. “I liked that it is a safe program right here, where I can walk out of my classroom at any time and check on my daughter. And it’s really convenient that we both go to the same place at the same time.”
Boyd’s daughter was 2 when she began attending the center, a lottery-funded pre-k program for children from 7 months to 5. Last year, Atlanta Tech’s program was accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a nonprofit that recognizes high-quality early childhood education programs.
While Boyd has attended class from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, September has gotten a jump start on her own education.
“The program has taught her a lot, even when she came in at 2 years old,” Boyd said. “I was really surprised and very happy about how they worked with my daughter. They’ve set a good foundation for her.”
The preschool program, which has been in place since 1974, serves 84 children whose parents are among the 4,700 students at the college in southwest Atlanta. Along with being a safe place for children while their parents are in class, the facility is also a teaching center for Atlanta Tech’s education majors.
“We have an observation lab where students can come in and look into the classrooms,” said Marsha Whittle, who has managed the facility for four years. “They often come in with assignments from their teachers to look for certain behaviors. We also have interns working here who get hands-on experience each day. They become part of the teaching situation and learn how to become child care providers right here on campus.”
The Early Childcare Center is open from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and also provides before- and after-hours care. The cost, which varies by a child’s age, ranges from $120 to $140 per week and includes breakfast, lunch and snacks.
The most valuable part of the program, said Boyd, is the care her child receives in a facility run by education experts.
“The staff here is just great; they really care about my daughter,” she said. “Dr. Whittle really trains the students to go out there and love these children. It’s a great experience for the people in the early childhood education program and for the children as well.”