CCAC to consider closing child-care centers

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Since its founding four decades ago, Community College of Allegheny County has run child care centers that helped students studying on its four campuses juggle demands of parenting with rigors of getting a degree.

But the support offered by those facilities may soon be gone.

The college’s board of trustees Thursday will be asked to consider closing the centers, which have seen declining usage and are running at an operational loss.

This summer, officials at CCAC sought proposals from outside providers specializing in such care to operate its child centers in hopes of bolstering use. But no bid responses arrived by the Oct. 8 due date, officials said today.

“I don’t think anybody can be happy about the situation,” CCAC spokeswoman Elizabeth Johnston said. “It’s a serious discussion and it is taken with extreme seriousness. This does have an impact on people.”

She did not have an estimate of the number of jobs that could be lost and said the matter has not yet been decided. “The board must weigh in,” she said.

Ms. Johnston did not have a timetable for when the centers could close, but one parent shared a notice from CCAC left in her child’s mailbox this week indicating the facilities may shut by Dec. 16.

It’s just terrible,” said Beth Jones, 28, a nursing student from Bethel Park, whose 3-year-old son, Mason, is enrolled in the South campus center.

She vowed to attend Thursday’s 4 p.m. meeting in Byers Hall on CCAC’s Allegheny campus on the North Shore in hopes of addressing school trustees.

“Children at that age, between 3 and 5, they’ve adjusted already. To make them move in the middle of the school year is really unfair, and it’s unfair to make me scramble to find another place for my child or possibly quit school,” Ms. Jones said.

The centers are on CCAC’s Allegheny, Boyce, North and South campuses. Officials said they can hold about 150 children, but by this fall enrollment was down to 68.

Declining enrollment at CCAC -- down 8 percent this fall alone -- is one reason usage declined, officials said. They had said they hoped that outsourcing the operation would enable the college to attract more students with children or parents from the general community.

It cost about $720,000 yearly to operate and had operating losses, after fees from clients, of $458,000 and $451,929 in 2011 and 2012, respectively, according to data proved by the college.

Along with offering day care, the centers created learning opportunities for students in CCAC’s Early Child Development programs, officials said.

Bill Schackner:, 412-263-1977. Twitter: @BschacknerPG.

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