By Merissa Anderson
A few blocks north from main campus, next door to the Elland Hall dorms, sit the quaint building and playground area of the Hutchinson Community College Child Care Center.
Julie Wisbey, Child Care Center Coordinator, has spent the last 23 years of her time working at HutchCC caring for the young children of students, staff members and surrounding area teachers.
“We have children ages 3 and potty trained up to 6-years old,” Wisbey said. “We are open 7:30 to 5 Monday through Friday, and our main goal is to prepare children for their future. They need to learn to communicate with each other, they need the social skills, they need the introduction to the letters. It’s not as direct as a preschool but we do introduce them to the things they’ll need for kindergarten.”
For students with children, there are several scholarships available for possible financial help.
“I want campus to know that we’re here and that we’re here to support the staff and students that have children,” Wisbey said. “We want them to know that their child is in a safe and happy space while they’re working. I want even the people that don’t have children to know that so if they know someone who has a child, they’re comfortable recommending us to them.”
Although the center can care for up to 38 children at a time, with the help of three full time employees and several work study students, this year they have a smaller group with 17 kids.
The day’s activities for the children are always educational and fun for all involved.
“We have a lot of free play because a lot of learning happens when they’re playing,” Wisbey said. “We give them a breakfast snack in the morning, we have circle time with music and movement and we have stories that happen outside and a lot of discussion about the things they want to accomplish for the day. We have two groups where one group is outside and the other is inside and we switch them so they get to do both. Then we’ll all come in and do an activity of some sort, like painting. Then we have more free play and get ready for lunch.”
Just before lunch, some children leave early and load up on a bus so that they can attend a preschool of their parent’s choice for the second half of the day.
“There’s a lot of rules we have to follow but seeing the kids be successful and watching them grow up is a really great feeling,” Wisbey said. “To see them and to have them still remember me is amazing.”
As much as Wisbey and the other employees enjoy spending time with the kids, there are times that the young ones can pose challenges.
“Dynamics of personalities can be difficult,” Wisbey said. “Each child is different and they all have their own personality and what you can say to one child doesn’t work with the next child sometimes. And it can be a challenge to figure out how to address a certain issue with a certain child. It can be challenging but it’s rewarding.”
Wisbey make the Child Care Center mission statement online to be her goal when caring for the children of HutchCC students and staff.
“The HCC Child Care Center, located on HCC campus is dedicated to promoting a healthy self image and to developing social skills through interaction with others, enhancing language development and self expression through communication, strengthening motor skills and encouraging cognitive development through a variety of ‘learning by doing’ activities while continuing to grow at each child’s own developmental level,” The Child Care Center website states.