Updated: Mar 5, 2020
By Felicity Neptune, News Editor
On June 19, 2019, the Day Nursery of Abilene announced its partnership with Hardin-Simmons University and Hendrick Health Systems.
Shannon Maynard, administrative assistant to the Dean of University Libraries, and Mary Burke, special collections manager, pitched the idea of a childcare center on campus to President Eric Bruntmyer in 2016. He advised them to come back with some more research and that is exactly what they did.
Immediately, they looked at other universities all over Texas that had childcare programs in place for their students, faculty and staff. In an email interview, Burke explained how it all happened. “We spoke with those directors to learn how they operate financially, day to day, and the impact they have on their universities. We researched the rules and regulations, and there are many, we sifted through the pros and cons of a program; we surveyed the campus, the response was overwhelming in support of an on-campus childcare, and then began to figure out how we could make it work.” Burke wrote.
Maynard and Burke met with Cynthia Pearson, president and CEO of Day Nursery of Abilene as well as an HSU alumna. Pearson and her program director, Brenda Peak, said institutions frequently come to them wanting to know how to create childcare for their employees due to the constant need. However, they rarely ever follow through with the plan because they are intimidated by the work to get the project accomplished such as funding, insurance fees and obtaining a location.
It was during their meeting with Pearson and Peak when they found out Hendrick had previously contacted them for similar reasons. “The stars aligned with this project,” Burke wrote. DNA was already looking to add a fourth location and Hendrick was able to donate their College Heights Elementary building creating a much more affordable plan.
According to the Day Nursery of Abilene website, “Day Nursery of Abilene is a private, non-profit, Texas corporation, founded in 1972 to assist low-income working parents with affordable quality childcare options.”
Their mission is to provide affordable quality childcare for a diverse community.
“[Day Nursery] is an established, successful and awarded Abilene-based childcare organization. To me, they are the leaders in town when it comes to childcare,” Burke wrote.
There were a large number at HSU as well as Hendrick that strongly believed in the need for more childcare in Abilene. This greatly helped contribute with funding the project.
There are reserved spots at DNA for HSU and Hendrick families to enroll their children.
“Day Nursery of Abilene, College Heights opened to the public Jan. 20. It is something I am so proud of, and so happy the community came together to make it a reality” Burke wrote.