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Two Oklahoma City colleges closing child care centers due to budget concerns

Daily Oklahoman - 7/11/2018

July 11--Two Oklahoma City colleges are closing their child care facilities this summer due to budget concerns.

Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City and Oklahoma City Community College opened the centers in conjunction with their child development degree and certification programs. The academic programs will continue at both campuses.

The Child Development Lab School at OSU-OKC will close Aug. 10. Parents and staff affected were notified June 29.

Pressure from multiple years of state funding cuts made continued operation of a quality child care facility unsustainable, especially since it isn't a core mission of the college, OSU-OKC President Brad Williams said.

"I've received several calls from parents who are frustrated and inconvenienced," Williams said. "The decision to close the facility was not taken lightly as we understand the impact on families and our OSU-OKC staff."

The facility currently serves 46 children -- mostly from families in the community not affiliated with the college -- and 11 staff members, Williams said.

The Child Development Lab School was established in 1991 as a teaching and observation resource for students and grew over the years to serve the community as a full-time child care facility.

Williams said students in OSU-OKC's early care and child development degree and certification programs will conduct their observations at other day care centers or agencies that serve children.

Those partnerships are being worked out for the fall semester. Agencies that hire program graduates, like the Department of Human Services or Court Appointed Special Advocates, would be good partners and would enhance student observations, Williams said.

OCCC closed its Child Development Center and Lab School on June 30 due to financial constraints, spokesman Cordell Jordan said.

No academic programs are affected and other facilities have been lined up for OCCC students to conduct their lab work, Jordan said.

About 70 children were being served at the center when it closed. Eighteen staff were employed there, and some were moved into other positions with OCCC, he said.

The Child Development Center and Lab School opened in the mid-1970s on the main campus and later moved to OCCC's Family and Community Education Center, 6500 S Land Ave.

All other programming at the center will continue, Jordan said. That includes the College For Kids Summer Camp and adult high school equivalency classes and English as a Second Language classes.

The child care facility is the latest community program OCCC has eliminated in recent years because of reductions in state funding.

OCCC closed its Aquatic Center after Labor Day 2015 and the following summer discontinued Arts Festival Oklahoma, a Labor Day tradition since 1979.

President Jerry Steward said those were tough decisions that had to be made.

"We have to preserve the core mission of Oklahoma City Community College, and the core mission is teaching and learning," he said.

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(c)2018 The Oklahoman

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