Johnson visits local child care facilities

Johnson visits local child care facilities Sen. Tim Johnson discusses child care issues at the USD Vucurevich Children's Center with Merle Eintracht, director, and work study students Joleen Reule and Beth Nelson. Reule, a biology major at USD, has served the children's center since September 2002. Nelson, who is majoring in elementary education, has assisted the staff at the center since September 2000. Johnson praised the role the center plays at The University of South Dakota. "What makes this a great child care facility is not just the brick and mortar here, but the quality of the programs here and the quality of the people," he said. "Every parent can drop their child off here, knowing they are going to be cared for in the best possible way." The affordable cost of the center's services, Johnson said, allows university students with young families to continue pursuing their higher educations. by David Lias Sen. Tim Johnson couldn't help but feel a bit satisfied when he visited the USD Vucurevich Children's Center last week.

No longer burdened by last year's strenuous campaign, he calmly chatted with Merle Eintracht, director of the center, spoke with USD work study students, and watched children frolic on modern playground equipment.

The playground is located on what was once Vermillion's golf course. Johnson, a hometown boy, remembers a time when he'd sling a bag of clubs over his back, bike to the links with his buddies, and spend a lazy summer day golfing.

He's glad the property is being put to good use by the Vucurevich Center. And he's glad that he and other members of Congress helped secure some of the funding for the playground equipment.

"This is very satisfying, and of course there was a lot of local money and local effort that went into this," Johnson said. "Merle (Eintracht) deserves a lot of credit for her tenacity and her effort for making all of this happen.

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"But I glad I could play some role in helping bring this about," he said.

Johnson remembers the condition of the child care center's former home � an older house that was outdated and inadequate.

"Now to have comprehensive, high quality child care for babies and toddlers all the way to these older children is just a wonderful thing," Johnson said. "It's great for the kids, it's great for the families, it's great for the University of South Dakota � it's something the community can be proud of."

Johnson was given a tour of the children's center, housed in what formerly was the club house of the city's old golf course.

"What makes this a great child care facility is not just the brick and mortar here, but the quality of the programs here and the quality of the people," he said. "Every parent can drop their child off here, knowing they are going to be cared for in the best possible way."

The affordable cost of the center's services, he said, allows university students with young families to continue pursuing their higher educations.

"I'm going to spend some time at Vermillion's other day care as well, and talk with them about some things we may be able to do," Johnson said. "We need to upgrade the facilities for Head Start and other programs. It's not as if one facility in town takes care of all the needs."

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