IUS is among nation’s best for students with kids

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Jason Meriwether, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs daughter attends the Children’s Center, and can attest that his child benefits from the strong program at the Center. “It gives the parents some exposure to that curriculum, allows them to see ‘Hey, this is what’s going on during the day, this is what I can do at home.”

Duncan Cooper

    Being a parent is tough. A parent has to deal with the issues and stress of their own lives as well as their children. They work to support themselves and their family. Being a parent means that they are guardians, guides, and leaders of the next generation. It’s a difficult but rewarding job that goes on for years until they reach adulthood.

           Being a student as well as parent is even tougher. One is split among their duties of caring for children, supporting their family, and furthering their education. Though parents go to college to better their lives as well as their kids, the duress that comes with this new lifestyle is hard for even the toughest person.

           But not at IU Southeast, which was recently named as one of the best colleges for students with children by Bestcolleges.com.

           This has come about due to the hard work and care of the staff at the Children’s Center, led by Wanda Borrego.

Borrego, Coordinator of the Center, has led the Center for 13 years.

           “We’re considered a service on campus, both for students, faculty and staff…” says Borrego. “A lot of our parents come to the university because there is a childcare on campus, and they tend to stay because their child is right here on campus. We have an open-door policy, so they’re able to come and go at will. They’re able to come in and check in on their child, and spend time with them. Students have a lot of family and friends that are here, so they kind of share that and tell that.”

           This has been beneficial to IU Southeast, something Jason Meriwether, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs has seen. “I think that it’s good because we cater to so many students who are not traditional…” Meriwether said. “So having this type of 3rd-party accolade for our childcare center says that ‘You’re welcome here, we want to support you as a student, and we have a safe place for your children.’”

           Borrego knows the struggles adult students deal with, and tries to make Children’s Center an easy to use service for everyone on campus who has need of them. “Finding childcare is difficult, and finding one that is affordable is very difficult, and finding one without a waiting list is very difficult… You can use us as an ‘as-needed’ basis… as long as they’re registered with us and we have all their paperwork, they can use us.”

           However, the IU Southeast Children’s Center is more than just a simple daycare. “I just think our program is a strong program,” said Borrego. “We operate as a preschool during the day… I think the way we’ve developed our curriculum over the past has made us a strong program.”

           The Children’s Center focuses on giving children a chance to learn, and also to experience the campus and more. “We utilize the campus as much as possible. We go over when the Ogle Center has the Kentucky Center for the Arts Children’s Series… and let the kids see that. Our kids get to experience a college lifestyle before a lot of kids get to do that, and I think that establishes that higher level of education.”

Jason Meriwether, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs daughter attends the Children’s Center, and can attest that his child benefits from the strong program at the Center. “It gives the parents some exposure to that curriculum, allows them to see ‘Hey, this is what’s going on during the day, this is what I can do at home.”
Jason Meriwether, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
daughter attends the Children’s Center, and can attest that his child benefits from the strong program at the Center. “It gives the parents some exposure to that curriculum, allows them to see ‘Hey, this is what’s going on during the day, this is what I can do at home.”

           The Center is not solely for children’s benefit, as the staff are willing to help parents in helping their child. “We are very centered and focused on child development and working with our kids and making sure our kids are ready for the next step,” said Borrego. “We do developmental assessments on our kids, and we keep running records. We just make sure we are really tuned in with our children, not just cognitively, but also in their emotional and social development. For example, we have a young girl, and she’s dyslexic. When we brought it to the parents’ attention, they thought it was normal development. Then we were able to find resources for that family and give it to them.”

           Meriwether, whose own daughter attends the Children’s Center, can attest that his child benefits from the strong program at the Center. “It gives the parents some exposure to that curriculum, allows them to see ‘Hey, this is what’s going on during the day, this is what I can do at home,’” Meriwether said. “I also thinks it furthers the comfort, which is the kind of thing that makes it a childcare center and not just a daycare center. It’s a great environment, it’s a safe environment.”

           The Children’s Center is well acquainted with other parts of the campus, and oftentimes, students come to know the Children’s Center through internships, or other means. “The different schools on campus utilize us. They send their students over to do observations, if they have presentations, we’ve even had Theater majors come over and do monologues for us,” Borrego states. “We have some that volunteer in here. We have some nursing students just recently that came in, they were talking about weather safety, talking about washing your hands… We’ve even had some sororities and fraternities that have done book drives and toy drives.”

           With the recent accolade of being listed nationally, the Children’s Center has already begin to see benefits of their newfound exposure. “This ranking, from the outside world, has had people want to come in and be a part of us… we’ve had several dentists and orthodontists that have wanted to come in and do presentations and work with our kids. I think that’s put us out there a little bit more.”

           But when the day is done, the goal of the Children’s Center has always been to educate their children and help the parents have an ease of mind as they study for their degree. “We try to make it an educational, learning experience for our kids,” Borrego said. “We’re very in tune to them and we have a great rapport with our parents, and that’s a good thing, too.”

           “I think the staff is amazing. They care about every child that comes through there,” says Meriwether.