LMU’s potential new athletic facility may move the Children’s Center out of Hannon parking lot, evoking worries and concerns from staff and faculty as well Children Center parents. LMU’s Children's Center (LMUCC) was founded in 2002 by a group of parents who desired a learning space for the children of students, faculty and staff, according to LMUCC.
“LMUCC's early childhood professionals are committed to educating the whole child –– socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually … The curriculum focuses on play, creativity and hands-on discovery learning,” according to LMUCC.
Previously, the Loyolan reported that the Athletic Center is considering developing a new facility for athletes. “LMU is in the exploratory stage of building a new sports venue on campus that will elevate LMU Athletics, allowing us to compete at an even higher level,” said athletic director Craig Pintens. The University is in the process of planning a new venue to host basketball and volleyball games, as previously reported by the Loyolan.
On Jan. 16, LMU’s Faculty and Staff Senates, composed of elected faculty, staff and professional librarian representatives, released a joint resolution proposing to keep the LMUCC on campus. The resolution, signed by Faculty Senate President Marne Campbell and Staff Senate President Katherine Brown, states, “It is resolved that moving the LMU Children’s Center off campus, therefore, represents a regressive step in a well-established campus community of care … and a reduction of existing benefits for faculty/staff.”
According to Brown, her role as Staff Senate President is to listen and communicate the concerns and ideas of staff members and the Staff Senate to one another. “In this instance, the Staff Senate considers the on-campus location of the Children's Center to provide important benefits to the LMU community and supports preserving these benefits,” said Brown.
Brown continued, “To the extent of my knowledge, no decisions have yet been made. The Staff Senate's intention for the resolution is to articulate the importance of and express support for the Children's Center remaining part of the Westchester campus.”
Dr. Ani N. Shabazian, the director of the Children’s Center said, “In anticipation of [the new athletic facility], LMU is exploring different location options for the Children’s Center, working closely with faculty, staff and LMU leadership to identify possible solutions that would meet the needs of the university and its families."
Moving the Children’s Center would affect up to 110 children and 28 staff members, according to LMUCC. The center hosts students from six weeks to up to five years old with varying tuition fees from $800 to $1,900 depending on the age and enrollment status of a student, as stated by LMUCC.
Marianne Hayes, a sophomore psychology major who works in the LMUCC as a caregiver said, “[LMUCC] is super important because it's a convenient center that brings the community together. And if they take it off campus, parents and staff wouldn't have the benefits of having care for their kids in a place where they don't have to worry about driving 20 minutes to drop off their kids and come back."
According to Hayes, she has been working in the center for nearly two years. She says she works there for about seven hours a week assisting classrooms with whatever help they need, from washing dishes to helping out with children and the class curriculum.
“As students who have education majors and want to work with kids, I feel like this is a great opportunity to see what a child development center is like and have first hand experience working with teachers and kids,” said Hayes.
In response to LMUCC potentially being moved out of Hannon parking lot, Pintens shared, “It is too early to speculate on how a new venue could affect the Children’s Center, but I am confident LMU will have a solution that works for everyone.”
Similarly, Dr. Shabazian said, “While maintaining a campus-based childcare center is optimal, I trust that the University is committed to doing all that it can to help sustain this high-quality accredited experience for its faculty, staff, students and the community we serve.”