Children’s Center to swap hands

After an ad hoc committee reevaluated the role of the Children’s Center over the past year, the College recently made the decision to end the outsourcing of its management to Child Care of the Berkshires (CCB) and to take over its management in the office of operations beginning this summer. CCB has managed the Center for 22 years.

Steve Klass, vice president of operations and chair of the ad hoc committee, explained that after reviewing several different models for its administration, the College came to the conclusion that under self-management, it could command the most influence over the Center regarding the curriculum and operations. Discarded models included outsourcing to another organization or creating a separate non-profit board to control the Center.

Although the details of the modifications have not been cemented, Klass explained that the potential for new opportunities is great given these new management circumstances. For instance, the psychology department will have easier access to children for experimental observation, and may have a hand in designing a curriculum to suit the age-appropriate needs, he said.

One reason for the change in operating hands is the College’s desire to place more emphasis on a childhood development curriculum rather than just childcare. In order to spearhead this adjustment, the College is conducting a broad-based search for a new director. Heading the search is Linda Mills, a consultant who drew up the initial Children’s Center report that the ad hoc committee reviewed.

Lynn Kamian, the interim director of the Center, expressed confidence in the Center’s ability to make the transition smoothly. Kamien,who took over earlier this month after the former director Susan Ramos resigned, has not decided whether she will apply for the permanent position of new director.

According to Klass, the current staff at the Center are not guaranteed employment under the new management because jobs will be decided with an emphasis on curricular interests.

Klass recently met with employees at the Center to explain how the transition will be executed. “Steve sounded quite optimistic,” Kamian said. “From what I understand I believe that there will be spaces for staff if they want to stay.” She added that many parents have expressed their desire for the current staff to stay on.

The Center has recently battled issues of employee retention; the position of early childhood caregiver is often an unstable, entry-level position with notoriously low wages. This past summer and into the school year, the Center saw four employees leave in a small span of time, a situation which left some classrooms understaffed.

While the staffing situation has stabilized due to temporary replacements, the greater problem of keeping employees for the long term remains. Under the College’s wing, however, employees will share the benefits and compensation packages of other College employees and, according to Klass, will likely see an increase in wages.

Tuition for the Center increases every year by an average of 4 to 5 percent, but Klass predicted that the tuition increase may be sharper next year depending on the overall cost of the new programs the College decides to implement.

These changes come on the coattails of the October opening of the new Children’s Center building on Whitman St.