Community members welcome upcoming childcare center — but some have cost concerns

Parents listen to an informational session on the new childcare session in the Seneca Building on March 11, 2020. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

A new childcare center near the University of Maryland is projected to open Aug. 1, aiming to offer a convenient location to the College Park and university communities.

The center, which is called the University of Maryland Child Development Center, is located on Calvert Road and will be managed by childcare provider Bright Horizons. The facility will be able to hold 120 children from six weeks to five years old, according to its website. 

The center is expected to serve students, faculty and staff in the university community, and at least 14 children from families not affiliated with the university, according to their website. An initial enrollment process began March 10 and will go until April 12.

Reuben Tayengwa, who is working on a post-doctorate in molecular biology, is trying to register his 2-year-old. He liked almost everything about the center, he said — except the pricing. 

Monthly tuition at the center ranges from about $1,400 to $2,000, plus a non-refundable $150 registration fee and an annual $100 re-registration fee per child. Still, Tayengwa said the center seems professional and established, and the location is great. 

“It’s just proximity to work,” Tayengwa said. “Some parents have to drive further out of their way to daycare and it’s inconveniencing in the mornings … but [the center] will be convenient, at least in this case, because I’ll be coming to work and then on my way, dropping him off.”

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Education doctoral student Jennifer Mesiner doesn’t think the cost makes sense. If she put her son in the center, she’d have to pay about $3,000 more than what she is paid per year — before taxes. 

She compared the center’s price to that of Florida State University, where she studied before. There, the monthly tuition for daycare was $700, she said. 

“The point of making the center was to have affordable care because [officials] recognized that there wasn’t affordable care there. So why would they price it the same as the care that already exists?” Mesiner said. “It’s like they built the center to fill a need, and then totally lost that part of the vision.”

The management uses a curriculum called “Our World at Their Fingertips,”which engages children with math, writing, science and physical activity. There are also opportunities for students to learn about art, music and gardening. 

[Read more: Community members offer rides, lodging and more to UMD students in need amid pandemic]

Parents who have children in the center can download a mobile app called “My Bright Day.” The app gives parents real-time updates on what the child has eaten and what they’re learning, among other features, said center director Christina Cross at the session. 

A university spokesperson wrote in an email that Cross was unavailable for an interview, and Bright Horizons regional manager Stacy Ginsburg didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Alberto Belloni, a physics professor at the university, lives in University Park. He wants to enroll both his children in the same daycare, he said, and welcomed the news of a new option nearby. 

“People working in my line of work … we don’t have a nine to five job. We have lots of flexibility with how we organize our work day, but there’s a need for some stability for where we keep the kids,” Belloni said.

 

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