While senior history major Daniel Sileo attends classes at Buffalo State and his wife, Mary Grace, ’13, ’19, teaches at Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School, their 2-year-old daughter, Selah, has her own activities to tackle.
There’s playing with blocks, romping on the playground, climbing into a play loft, and snuggling up for story time in the Senior Toddler room, for starters. Selah joined the Infant II classroom in the Buffalo State Child Care Center as a 1-year-old, and now happily attends five days a week.
“Since I was in the education program here, I know the teachers working in the center really care about kids,” said Mary Grace Sileo. “The activities they do with the kids are pedagogically sound, activities I wouldn’t have thought of.”
Having a campus Child Care Center, licensed to care for up to 82 children from 6 weeks to 4 years, is one of the ways that Buffalo State accommodates students at all stages of their lives. In fall 2018, almost 300 students reported they had children.
“Buffalo State recognizes that not all of our students follow the traditional route to college,” said Timothy Gordon, vice president for student affairs.” Many students take classes while juggling jobs and families. By providing as many resources as possible, we ensure that students have the support necessary to thrive while also honoring their other obligations.”
Opened in 1975 and in its current location in Buckham Hall C wing since 1996, the center is not only convenient for students, faculty, and staff alike; it also boasts accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Only 2 percent of child care programs in the area have this national accreditation. Full-time staff members are all professionals in the early childhood field. The center also employs Buffalo State students, most majoring in elementary education, psychology, or social work, for part-time positions.
“I get a lot of phone calls from community members seeking spots here,” said Monique Bluford, a 2013 graduate of Buffalo State’s childhood education program who was a teacher in the center before being named executive director in summer 2017. “Sometimes we can accommodate them, but students, faculty, and staff get first priority.”
Students get a discount on tuition, and they can also qualify for government grants.
“I think it’s affordable,” Mary Grace Sileo said. “I’m not sure what we would have done otherwise. The center staff walked us through the application process for grants, which was really helpful.”
Along with the Child Care Center, services for student parents include suite-style campus housing in Moore Complex designed for families with children. Five apartments are available to single parents or couples with children, said Candance Williams, assistant director of residence life.
Malanna Fuentes, a junior fashion and textile technology major, transferred to Buffalo State this fall from Jamestown Community College (JCC) with her 4-year-old daughter in tow. They moved into a furnished two-bedroom suite with a full kitchen.
“Because I’m 26 years old, I didn’t think I could live on campus,” said Fuentes, who discovered the Moore option from a counselor at JCC. She now arranges her classes around her daughter’s schedule and takes advantage of campus perks like the Fitness Center.
“The apartment is adorable,” she said. “My daughter loves it. She thinks it’s the coolest thing.”
Wanda Wilson, a senior health and wellness major and mother of four, has three children currently in the Child Care Center. She said she isn’t sure what she would have done without this option.
“They really work with families,” said Wilson, who works two part-time jobs while taking classes.
Her twins, Mi’kal and Ry’leigh, who are almost 2, have been enrolled since they were 6 weeks old. Her 4-year-old daughter, Laiyah, started at 2 months old. And her son, Jeremih, 9, attended when he was younger.
“The teachers talk directly to you,” she said. “Whatever you’re doing at home, they try to replicate at the center.”
Mary Grace Sileo said she likes the fact that she and her husband can visit their daughter whenever they’re on campus.
“They have an open-door policy; you can stop by at any time.”
The couple has been so happy with the center they’re hoping to add another member to its roster. They’re expecting a baby boy in February.
About the Child Care Center
Licensed by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, the Buffalo State Child Care Center is accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood, a division of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It is funded through parent fees, scholarships, and grants from Buffalo State, the State University of New York, United Students Government, and the Family Benefits Committee. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuition is offered on a sliding scale.
Pictured, from left: Daniel, Selah, and Mary Grace Sileo
Photo by Bruce Fox, college photographer
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