GRANDVIEW - The future of the Yakima Valley Community College Learning Center, located on the Grandview campus, is up in the air.
Operated by the Washington State Migrant Council (WSMC) since July 2003, the day care center staff was told Tuesday that the center's days are numbered. Staff was told the center was closing at the end of December.
Calls to the Sunnyside WSMC corporate office confirmed that the center will be closing. However, initially the center will be closed only for the Christmas vacation, according to a statement from Carlos Diaz, WSMC chief executive officer.
Diaz said during the Christmas vacation closure, which coincides with the campus closure, the WSMC will be evaluating cost factors in the private pay operation of the day care program.
"This (action) is not to be confused with the operation of the Region 10 regular Head Start program, which will continue to operate at the facility," he said.
The federally-funded Head Start program currently has eight children enrolled in the pre-school education programs, according to staff at the center.
The center is licensed for 20 children, ages 2-1/2 to 5, but only has 17 children enrolled in the pre-school education and child care programs. But, according to Site Manager Marie Cantu, daily attendance of private pay children is sporadic and that is leading to the center's current financial concerns.
The center, which is open during college hours, is available to students at the campus and the general public as well, said Cantu.
"But students are not making consistent use of the center and neither is the public," she added.
"We have been struggling financially with the center since we took over in July 2003," admitted Cristina Klatovsky, WSMC's director of programs development and evaluation. She said the center is funded through a two-phase approach with part of the funding coming from a grant and the other from private pay. "We are not sure if we will be able to continue the private pay portion of the program," Klatovsky said.
The WSMC holds a contract with the City of Grandview to provide the child care programs through June 2005. However, according to the center's contract, the Migrant Council must give the city of Grandview 60 days notice if it plans to terminate the contract.
As yet, that decision has not been made, said Cantu.
"We've been told that the center will continue to operate during winter quarter," she added.
However, if the center closes, it will affect many parents who use the facility, said Michelle Edwards, a parent whose daughter attends the center.
Edwards expressed concern and displeasure over the rumored closing of the center, via an email.
"As of right now, parents and the teachers (at the center) do not have a definite answer as to whether or not the facility will remain open," she said.
She said closure would be a hardship for many parents.
"As a parent using this facility, I can't afford to lose my child care," said Edwards, who plans to be a full-time student on the Grandview campus starting in January.
"It's frustrating, not knowing who will be taking care of my daughter while I'm attending classes. Here,I felt secure that she would be safe.
"Now, I don't know what we'll be doing," she added.