The Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester (BGCD) will be re-opening a new daycare center that will serve the University of Massachusetts Boston community, college officials announced Monday, Feb. 12.

The new daycare center is expected to reopen on 2 Harbor Point Boulevard, a sector of the Harbor Point Apartment complex, early this upcoming spring. The BGCD serves children as young as toddlers, up to the age of 18. According to the Dorchester Reporter, the decision to serve UMass Boston’s community was established after its meetings with the Harbor Point Task Force. The new daycare center will be located in the space where UMass Boston’s Early Learning Center (ELC) used to be, before it was permanently shut down last December.

“We are excited to have this opportunity to expand our early education programs into the Harbor Point community,” said Bob Scannell, president and CEO of the organization, in a press release. 

Last July, the UMass Boston and Harbor Point communities expressed frustration when the ELC was announced to shut down amid UMass Boston’s massive budget deficit.

According to the Boston Globe, Tom Goodkind, president of the Professional Staff Union at UMass Boston, said that the ELC’s program was one of quality, fair pay, and “decent benefits.” Goodkind added that he doubts “the Boys & Girls Club can match that.”

Current Vice President of UMass Boston's Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Sara Tariq, thinks otherwise, saying that the BGCD could be a benefit for those who have used the ELC in the past. "I think it's great that the BGCD have opened a new daycare center. With the ELC being closed now this will really help the people especially in the Dorchester community who utilized the center," Tariq told The Mass Media.

The decision to close the ELC had infuriated many students and faculty at UMass Boston who are parents. “Sacrifices had to be made,” UMass Boston’s Interim Chancellor Barry Mills said in response to the campus community at a town hall forum late last year. According to a Boston Globe news report, a UMass Boston spokesperson said the daycare center was costing the college over $500,000, a price UMass Boston was no longer able to afford. Closing the ELC was the results of the first budget cut that UMass Boston made to reduce what was initially a $30 million deficit.

“I’m very pleased that the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester has decided to establish a child care center at Harbor Point. This decision is consistent with its mission and ensures that quality care will continue to be available at Harbor Point,” Mills told the Dorchester Reporter. He added that “It complements services the organization already offers and extends the reach of a group that is an acknowledged leader in its field.”

UMass Boston Student Trustee Gray Milkowski says that he hopes parents of the campus community that relied on the ELC will be given priority at the new daycare center. In a statement to The Mass Media, Milkowski said, “Accessible childcare is important for everyone in Harbor Point and Dorchester, and it’s wonderful BGCD will be able to fill that void in providing it.”

“I hope they can provide the same quality,” Milkowski said. “But I think the bigger point is to take care of kids and that’s really what the deal does. That’s the most important part, if you ask me.”

The BGCD has served over 4,000 youths with over 200 programs each year, according to the Dorchester Reporter.

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