The Lehigh Child Care Center is located on Duh Drive, near the Saucon Village Apartments. The Child Care Center accepts students between the ages of six weeks and five years old. (Chang Sun/B&W Staff)

Child Care Center brings ‘a little bit of home’ to Lehigh faculty and students


Lehigh’s Child Care Center is a resource for professors and administrators with kids of their own, and students who are pursuing a career related to children. The center features bright and colorful drawings on the walls and a light atmosphere, ultimately creating a second home for the 42 children who come in each day.

The Child Care Center, located at the Saucon Village apartments, has been open to Lehigh faculty and students with children since 1990. The center is run by 13 full time staff, four part-time teachers and 14 Lehigh student workers.

Kathy Calabrese, the founder and director of the Child Care Center, has been running the facility since it opened in 1990.

“We are truly an extension of the family,” Calabrese said. “We provide learning opportunities for children to look at as fun.”

The children who are regulars at the center range in age from 6 weeks to 5 years old. The center is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with breakfast and lunch included for the children.

Multiple Lehigh students are paid to work at the center.

“I have found that we get a lot of students that just have an interest to help and they don’t necessarily have to be education majors,” Calabrese said. “It actually is a great balance.”

Karen Valerio, ‘17,  started working at the Child Care Center in January, and can often be found in the ‘baby room.’

“My major does not relate to children at all, I just like babies,” Valerio said.

Zara Ahmad, ‘16, ‘17G, is also a Lehigh student whose academics are unrelated to education.

“It’s kind of a stress reliever,” Ahmah said. “It’s completely unrelated to what I want to pursue and it’s a way to get my mind off everything.”

Ahmad and Valerio agreed the center is easy to work with if they need to switch their shifts or have any conflicts. They also get a preference on the age groups they work with.

Since students work at the center, their professors sometimes come to pick up their kids, which creates a different dynamic than one found in the classroom.

“It’s weird because sometimes I think ‘wow this baby looks a lot like this professor I know’ and the resemblance is so great that I know who their parent is before they come to pick them up,” Valerio said

Ahmad said these types of interactions allow the student workers to get to know professors and administrators in a different light.

Valerio said working at the center provides a different environment than other jobs available on campus. Instead of working with stressed out college students, she gets to hang out with children and get paid for it.

Lehigh’s students and professors also take advantage of the child care center in a different way through observational research, studies and practicums.

During a typical semester, two or three classes come in to observe the center and the children. In addition, a class within the IDEAS program comes in each semester to observe and use the information they find to develop a product that could be helpful to parents.

“The Child Care Center really brings a little bit of home into students’ lives,” Calabrese said.

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