Kentucky State University is shutting down its on-campus day care center.
The Rosenwald Center for Families and Children, which closed its doors for the last time Friday, is slated to reopen as a 4-H center in January in order to comply with federal rules governing the use of U.S. Department of Agriculture funds, KSU President M. Christopher Brown II told The State Journal.
“The Rosenwald Center, as conceived, was not a fundable 1890 program,” Brown said, referring to the year historically black land-grant institutions were established.
Since taking office earlier this year, Brown has been leading an effort to review the university’s contracts and finances. In September, Brown requested a forensic audit of KSU’s books by state Auditor of Public Accounts Mike Harmon. Brown described the decision to convert Rosenwald into a 4-H center as part of his ongoing effort to “draw lines” between past practice and today.
The $4.2 million, 15,000-square-foot facility originally opened in 2013 under former KSU President Mary Sias. With its six classrooms and observation areas outfitted for different age groups, the center was designed to serve up to 70 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 12 years, The State Journal reported before its opening. By 2015, the center had just 28 children enrolled. Director of KSU Land Grant Programs Kirk Pomper did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The revamped center will discontinue day care activities, according to a Nov. 6 proposal letter Pomper sent to the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which funds Rosenwald. Instead, the center will offer 4-H programming with an agricultural and food science-based Extension curriculum for children from ages 5 to 18, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. each weekday.
No fees will be charged for participating 4-H students.
KSU students in the Early Childhood Development Program will still be able to observe classes at the center, according to Pomper’s proposal letter.
“Youth who are unsupervised are much more likely to engage in activities that place them at risk; therefore, after-school hours represent either risk or opportunity,” the letter states. “Providing programs during the out-of-school hours (including after-school hours, teacher in-service days, school holidays, and the summer months) give youth safe, supervised places to spend time, along with chances to learn new skills, develop their interests, and spend meaningful time with peers and adults.”
Programs at the center will likely focus on the sciences, healthy living and citizenship, the letter states.