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Child care center expands summer program for school-aged children

Dennis Black, in dark suit, and children from the UB Child Care Center's summer program for school-aged children cut the "ribbon" officially opening the program's new space in Butler Annex B on the South Campus. Photo: Nancy J. Parisi

By CATHLEEN DRAPER

Published July 2, 2015

“We provide an opportunity to keep the summer brightness going.”
Dennis Black, vice president for university life and services

The UB Child Care Center (UBCCC) is expanding this summer in more ways than one. A new recreational room, growing summer program for school-aged children and redesigned website are all part of the ongoing enhancements being made to the learning environment the center provides.

“We provide an opportunity to keep the summer brightness going,” Dennis Black, vice president for university life and services, said of UBCCC’s nine-week summer program for children ages 5 to 12. The program, which is set up like a traditional summer camp, runs from June 29 through Aug. 28.

UBCCC is a private, non-profit organization with sites on St. Rita’s Lane on UB’s North Campus and in Butler Annex A on Main Street on the South Campus. The center offers full-time and part-time child care for the children of UB faculty, staff and students, as well as other state employees and families from the community.

The summer program had primarily been located on the North Campus, but UBCCC leaders found a previously unused room perfect for expanding the summer camp to the South Campus.

Elizabeth Bittar, UBCCC board president, compared the South Campus program expansion to a flower. The seed — an idea to develop the program on the South Campus — was planted and watered by the opportunity to renovate a previously unused space. The renovation went smoothly and, soon enough, the second summer program blossomed.

On Wednesday, the new space was officially opened. Children from the summer program held a handmade banner they had decorated with glitter, drawings and bright colors proclaiming “grand opening.” A countdown began, and soon the children, accompanied by Black and center leaders, cut the banner, unveiling the recently renovated Butler Annex B.

“We cut the ribbon,” exclaimed an ecstatic camper, ready to run inside and enjoy some cookies and lemonade.

Sherene Milizia, assistant director in the Office of Student Services in the Graduate School and a UBCCC board member, said Annex B for years had housed the Bethel Head Start preschool program, but the program has since ended. “The center recently received approval to utilize that space for an expanded program for school-aged children in the summer,” she said.

Renovations to Annex B included removing walls, a fresh coat of paint and the addition of a colorful floor. The floor features different patterns, including a hopscotch layout and chess board, so teachers can push furniture away and children can run around and play.

In addition to spending time indoors at the center, children enrolled in the summer program will take weekly field trips, see live performances and have the chance to go bowling, play golf and swim.

"I am very excited that we have expanded our summer camp program to include the South Campus,” said Melissa Bennett, program coordinator. “This allows us to not have to turn away any families from experiencing our summer camp activities. We also look forward to the possibilities that the future holds for the children of UB and our community.”

Along with revamping Annex B for additional space, UBCCC has launched a new website.

“Our goal with this new website is to provide parents, prospective families and visitors a more cohesive and streamlined access as they navigate through the programs and activities offered by UBCCC,” said Milizia.

UBCCC recently hosted its third annual UBCCC Friends and Family 5K Fun Walk. The walk raised $1,955 for the center, which will be used to purchase new books for the children.

With the success of the Fun Walk and increased enrollment in center programs, the leaders of UBCCC hope the flower they have planted will continue to grow. Long-term aspirations include an after-school program or universal pre-K in the Annex B space, and perhaps a new child care location on UB’s Downtown Campus.

“The opening of this program has proven that our team can work together to promote the mission and vision of UBCCC,” said Bittar. “I am honored to have the opportunity to work with such a talented group of people and look forward to the continued growth of our center.”