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Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony For Viking Child Care Center

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or Sarah Boggess (518) 629-8071

FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Hudson Valley Community College officials and other dignitaries today celebrated the opening of the $3 million, 16,000-square-foot Viking Child Care Center on the college's Troy campus. The new center, which was built by the Faculty Student Association (FSA) of Hudson Valley Community College, is designed to provide affordable care on a sliding-fee scale for 128 children ages six weeks to 5 years. Located on Williams Road at the southeastern end of Hudson Valley's campus, the center affords easy accessibility for parents attending the college, as well as community parents.

At its prior locale, in the Hy Rosenblum Administrative building, which is located off the main campus at the corner of Morrison and Vandenburgh Avenues, the Viking Child Care Center received an average of three requests per week from student-parents desperate for infant, toddler and school age care. Because the center was at full capacity, able to accommodate only 46 children, those parents were put on a lengthy waiting list.

Now, with the center's expanded space and services, more student-parents and community families will have an opportunity to work and/or attend college while having their children cared for in a safe, nurturing environment.

"The idea is to provide high-quality child care to students of Hudson Valley Community College," said John Buono, president of the college. "By providing affordable care and education for their children, the Viking Child Care Center provides student-parents the opportunity to obtain a college education and training that will lead to greater career choices in the future."

Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno (R-C, Brunswick) said: "Many families today depend on the income of two working parents and often, one parent seeks a higher education to improve their career opportunities. The new Viking Child Care Center will better accommodate the current demands for quality child care and encourage additional families to follow their dreams for a higher education and higher earnings."

Giving student-parents a chance to create a more promising future is important. While the Viking Child Care Center's children come from a diverse population of African-American, Caucasian and Hispanic families, there is one common denominator – in 2000, approximately 91 percent of the center's children fell below the poverty level.

"One of the great things about the Viking Child Care Center is that it operates on a sliding-fee scale," said Patrice Silvestrini, who takes advantage of the child-care services provided by the center while attending Hudson Valley. "That really helps somebody who is trying to go to school full-time. I know that there are a lot of students who could not attend Hudson Valley Community College without the aid of the Viking Child Care Center."

"The families that utilize the Viking Child Care Center often are fighting to better themselves, to get off of public assistance," said Ann Carrozza, executive director of the FSA, a not-for-profit corporation that seeks to enhance the lives of Hudson Valley's students, faculty and staff. "The Viking Child Care Center is a helping hand. It's a tool that allows parents to concentrate on making the difficult transition to independence."

At the new facility, enrollment also is open to community parents.

The FSA, which also operates Hudson Valley's bookstore and food services, opened the Viking Child Care Center in August 1986. There are 163 licensed Capital District child care centers; the Viking Child Care Center is one of just six accredited by the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In 1998, the center also embarked on a collaboration with CEO-Head Start, allowing children to be dually enrolled and attain additional services.

"The Viking Child Care Center is another wonderful resource available to Hudson Valley Community College students and staff, as well as the surrounding community," said Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen M. Jimino. "This facility, and the service-oriented relationship with CEO, is one more symbol of the strong partnership between Rensselaer County\'s public and private sectors, and builds on the overall quality of life in Rensselaer County. I commend both the college and the Faculty Student Association for their vision in this project.\"

"The Viking Child Care Center strives to provide a homelike environment for children," said Willie Hammett, vice president for student services at Hudson Valley and president of the FSA Board of Directors. "This is done through a cognitively based program that has been designed to meet each child\'s need for play, companionship and individual attention. The program is flexible; it recognizes children as individuals; and it provides opportunities for the children to develop at their own pace."

The Viking Child Care Center received a $562,131 state grant for its new on-campus facility. The grant, jointly administered by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and the Dormitory Authority of New York State (DASNY), was used for construction and related fees, and for the purchase of new playground equipment, fencing and surfacing, and kitchen and classroom equipment.

New York State Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner John A. Johnson, whose agency monitors and regulates day care statewide, said, "Today\'s opening highlights two of Governor George Pataki\'s most important priorities – quality education and safe, affordable child care, which are both instrumental as parents look to build a brighter future for their families. OCFS congratulates Hudson Valley Community College on the expansion of their services to students."

Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 50 degree and certification programs in four academic divisions: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Business; as well as programs run through the Educational Opportunity Center offering certification programs in workforce and academic preparation. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.