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UNC- Chapel Hill and UNC Hospitals opened two new preschool classrooms and two new play yards at the University Child Care Center on Monday, May 6.

With the approximately 2,000-square-foot expansion, the child-care center will have room for 40 additional preschool children, allowing the center to make a dent in its 200-plus waiting list and eliminate a bottleneck in classes for 2- and 3-year olds.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening at the child-care center on 130 Friday Center Drive included Chancellor Holden Thorp, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Brenda Malone, President of UNC Hospitals Gary Park and Vice President of Human Resources at UNC Hospitals Bill Rotella.

Children at the center sang “You are My Sunshine,” accompanied by Thorp on guitar.

Thorp said, “In addition to celebrating the expansion, this is also a great opportunity to recognize the center’s staff for the great job they do every day. The University Child Care Center provides an invaluable service to students and employees of the University and UNC Hospitals. It gives them the peace of mind that their children are receiving care from a five-star facility close to where they work.”

A year ago, Thorp made a strong case for the expansion to the Board of Trustees. “The expansion will help us meet the intense demand we have on campus,” he said. “It shows our commitment to help faculty and staff flourish.”

As of this week, the center has added 36 new children to the program spread evenly across all age groups, from infants as young as 6 weeks old to 5-year-olds. The center has also hired five new staff members to accommodate the growing demand.

Operated exclusively for UNC Hospital employees and Carolina employees and students, the center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and has the highest rating – five stars – from the state. It meets the highest national standards, and its activities include art, music, gardening, Spanish and yoga.

“I know of families who made employment decisions based on being able to enroll or on continuing here,” said Jeanne Wakefield, the center’s executive director. ”It’s a significant factor for families.”

The project, which cost approximately $400,000, was made possible by non-state funds from the University and UNC Hospitals.

Ongoing operating expenses will be covered by University Child Care Center tuition receipts. Because of the investment by the University and UNC Hospitals, the per-child cost of operating the center will be lower so tuition rates will remain among the lowest in the area among five-star programs.

Read more about the center.

Children sing "You are My Sunshine," accompanied by Chancellor Thorp on guitar.
Children sing “You are My Sunshine,” accompanied by Chancellor Thorp on guitar.













Published May 8, 2013