child care

Penn State announced Monday that both the Child Care Center at Hort Woods and the Bennett Family Childcare Center at University Park will reopen on Aug. 19.
Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State announced Monday that both the Child Care Center at Hort Woods and the Bennett Family Childcare Center at University Park will reopen on Aug. 19, less than one week before the fall semester is scheduled to begin. 

In a virtual town hall Monday, university Provost Nick Jones said both centers will reopen with a comparatively limited capacity and added safety precautions. But parents who attended the meeting on Zoom expressed concern and questioned why the details haven’t been worked out yet.

A teacher reads to kids at Step by Step School for Early Learning in State College, Pa.
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

In some ways, Rachel Johnson is grateful for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s mid-March business shutdown order: it took the agonizing decision over whether to close the child care center she runs with her husband out of their hands.

“It was sad and scary, but in a way, easy, because the choice was made for us,” said Johnson, 36, who runs Step by Step School for Early Learning in Centre County. “It was like, ‘Ok, we have to close.’ There was nothing to think about.”

Hort Woods child care building
Emily Reddy / WPSU

    

Two years ago, Penn State announced plans to outsource child care at its Bennett Family Center. Parents protested. That led Penn State to launch a task force on child care issues. Now, based on task force recommendations, the university has made a turnaround, bringing management of a different, previously outsourced child care center, in house. WPSU discussed the about-face with Holley Benjamin. Benjamin is the new director of Early Child Care Programs and Services at Penn State; the position itself was created on recommendation of the child care task force.