IVCC, YMCA join to support student childcare

Ryan Nolasco, Assistant Editor

Childcare is something that can be very hard to find for parents of young children.
Raising a child and working at the same time can be quite hectic, but when these parents are also students, it becomes even more difficult.

IVCC is well aware of this fact. Last fall, the school opened up a daycare for the children of students. Known as the Watch Center, it is managed by the Peru YMCA. Located in room CTC-206, the center is full of color and toys for children.
Several Watch Center workers were available for comment. The three of them shared a similar sentiment about the development of the center in the last year.
It seemed that not many people were aware of its existence, but according to Dayana, a worker at the center, “This semester, it kind of blew up.”
The Watch Center has in fact seen an increase in use. According to the three workers, a big part in how the center gets new patronage is the spreading of the word about their services. The YMCA in Peru has posters advertising the Watch Center.
Laura, another worker at the center, stated that, “Teachers make a point to hand out pamphlets,” which appears to be one of prominent ways that people find out about the Watch Center.
The workers stated that a majority of the people who use the Watch Center’s services are single parents and stay at home moms. This way, whether they’re working in classes or running errands, the center’s patrons have a way to ensure their children are in a healthy and happy environment.
IVCC and local elementary schools’ breaks (such as spring break) don’t line up, meaning that when the children would normally be in school while their parents are working, running errands, or doing their own classes, they would need someone to watch them. Luckily, the Watch Center remains open for this exact reason.
When it’s not a busy period like a school break, Watch Center attendant Josee says that the center’s normal amount of business just “depends on the day.”
Maya Ahlstrom manages the program at IVCC.
“We try to make the registration process as painless as possible,” she said. “Knowing childcare needs can change at any time, we keep our registration packets on hand in the room. The packet asks simple questions for the safety of the child.”
According to Ahlstrom, the Watch Center is entirely free to use for all students. The staff at the center also receive specialized training, Alhstrom said, “Our staff completes trainings through IDHS to maintain our license exemption. Through these trainings they learn a variety of ways to handle any child.”
When asked about any plans to expand, Alhstrom said there aren’t any specific plans in motion.
“However,” she said, “as this is our first year, we are very open to implementing new strategies and getting any furniture/equipment that may better service any that come in the future.”
Ahlstrom also gave a general overview of the center.
“The center typically sees 3-5 years old. Our rule of thumb is kids have to be 3 years old or completely toilet trained.”
“The creation of the room was a general idea when I was hired in June. With the help of Matt Seaton at IVCC, the college provided the funding needed to purchase supplies. The college has been a great partner and I am excited to see how the room develops.”
“This was our first year of operation, so our main priority is to perfect this room and grow it prior to expanding. However, IVCC has been helpful as they include us in many job fairs,” Ahlstrom said in closing.
The Watch Center is an important resource for anyone who may need it. Whether you’re interested in the childcare field or needing to use the services offered by the center, stop by CTC-206 and talk to the friendly staff.