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Ribbon-cutting in JC celebrates UHS Child Care

February 22, 2024

After five years of planning and development, UHS Child Care will begin welcoming youngsters in March.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in Johnson City on Feb. 22 to introduce the exciting new child care option to the community.

“At a time when so much is expected of those who work in healthcare, we are proud to offer quality child care as one more truly meaningful benefit for our employees who give of themselves in serving our patients across the UHS System,” said John Carrigg, president and chief executive officer of UHS. 

He added:  “Moreover, we are committed to offering this service to the community-at-large as an affordable, accessible and centrally located child care option, featuring convenient hours and a stimulating curriculum unlike anything previously available in our area.”

UHS is partnering with Bright Horizons, which brings to the Southern Tier its nationally recognized educational philosophy to enrich the lives of kids, including an infant group (6 weeks to 18 months), toddlers (18 months to 3 years), preschool (3 to 4 years), and kindergarten prep (4 to 5 years). There will also be a school-age program with summer and day camps when school is not in session.

The launching of the project has been made possible by a $5 million grant from the UHS Foundation and $1.2 million in state funds secured by New York Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo.

The facility is located at 619 Main St., in the Westover area, at the site of a former supermarket.  The building has been beautifully redesigned, will accommodate 82 enrollees at a time and operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

UHS Child Care director Maureen Mecca feels excited about what this center will offer the diverse community of Johnson City. Consideration for the needs of the children is central, beginning with toys. Open-ended toys—without one particular purpose but with many possible uses depending on the child’s imagination—are the standard.

“You're going to see natural materials like leaves, pine cones, sticks, stones, sorting baskets,” she says. “You're going to see a lot of muted colors. They're things that can be used as anything in imaginative play.”

Food will be served in cooperation with the UHS Food & Nutrition’s food delivery and catering team, and they’re ready to take care of accommodations due to special diets or allergies. Class décor will focus more on seasons than specific holidays, out of consideration for the many cultures and religions represented.

“There are so many different cultures, so many different colors, shapes and sizes of families, and we are lucky to be tapping into that and seeing that reflected in our center,” Ms. Mecca says.

Staff members go through rigorous diversity, equity and inclusion training and are also trained in supporting special needs children. “We have been fortunate with the turnout we've had for applicants. We have many people who came in with years of early childhood experience,” she notes. 

Enrollment in the center is open to both UHS employees and members of the community, with eligible UHS staff receiving a reduced rate.  for enrollment for the community, UHS employees receive a special rate and were allowed to enroll before the general public.

Anne DePugh, system director of Population Health Management at UHS, had been part of the center’s planning and knew she wanted to enroll her own children there right from the start.  The pricing structure and hours of operation are why she signed up her 3½-year old son.  “And the facility itself is unbelievably gorgeous. Absolutely state-of-the-art. Beautiful, light, airy, friendly and welcoming.”

UHS Child Care Ribbon Cutting Celebration