New vaccine regulations will stop some children at the door


Marc Pardo | Washtenaw Voice

By Taylor Robinson
Staff Writer

Even before the most recent outbreak of measles, chatter began about the need to strengthen the rules and regulations of vaccinations, especially among licensed children centers and schools.

As of Jan. 1, the Michigan Department of Community Health instated a new rule that parents must obtain a waiver from the MDCH if they choose to not vaccinate their children for non-medical reasons. Non-medical refers to religious or philosophical reasons.

Washtenaw Community College’s Children Center is included among the institutions that must abide by this new regulation.

Within the last couple of weeks, the guidelines changed for Trudi Hagen, director of WCC’s Children Center. Originally, the center needed one of two documents to allow a child into the daycare. On the day a child is signed up for the center, Hagen either needed an immunization record or a waiver signed by the parent if he/she did not vaccinate the child.

Because of currently registered children, the regulation will not go into effect until early March. If a parent child does not have proper documents, Hagen said, she must refer the parent to the local health department. After the parent takes a training class about vaccinations, the MDCH is given the responsibility of either signing or not signing a waiver form. Only after the parent presents a stamped document can Hagen allow the child into the center.

“It has been a kind of issue with daycare centers that we haven’t really been happy with, but there’s not much you can do because there’s never been anything with the agencies that regulate us to back us up, but now there is,” Hagen said. “Now the health department has stepped in because of these outbreaks.”

Involved for more than 30 years in the childcare field, Hagen recalled the vaccination debate gained attention when people thought a certain chemical in vaccines caused autism. She added that the chemical is no longer used and not proven as a link for the disorder.

Dr. Matthew Davis, a professor at the University of Michigan since 2000, specializes in pediatrics, internal medicine, and public policy. Davis spoke on the matter that some parents show hesitance toward vaccinations due to the influence of the Internet and media.

“What I advise parents to do is to not make up their minds about vaccines before getting to their child’s doctor office. Often times the information about children’s vaccines on the Web or other resources is incomplete,” Davis said. “I believe that every parent wants to make a decision for their child based on complete information.”

The Center for Disease Control does acknowledge the risks of vaccinations. It’s website mentions the most common reaction is redness and swelling surrounding the injection site that usually goes away in a few days. Some children may experience a rare severe allergic reaction and doctors are trained in dealing with those reactions.

“The vast majority of parents do vaccinate. That is the norm,” Davis said. “I do understand that some parents are concerned about vaccinating their kids and we need to have conversations with those parents.”

The Children’s Center: Where lifelong learning begins

The Children’s Center: Where lifelong learning begins



Ashley Meredith, lead teacher of the Gold Room, helps Zianthony Williams-Gilchrist, 3, and Michael La Palm, 5, during playtime at the Children’s Center.


Cheryl Brown of Ypsilanti says she is grateful to have a low-cost, high-quality daycare on campus for her 5-year-old son while taking classes at WCC. “They’re really great with the kids,” the 42-year-old nursing school student said. “Drake loves coming here.” Brown is just one of more than 100 parents who are students at WCC taking advantage of the daycare provided on campus at the Children’s Center, located on the south side of the campus. For almost as long as the college has existed, it has provided daycare for the children of students. For the cost of $3 per hour, WCC students can drop off their children ages 18 months through 5 years old while attending classes. The center also accepts the children of faculty and staff, but students’ kids take priority, said Trudi Hagen, Center director. More than just a babysitting service, the center prides itself on its curriculum, Hagen said. The center is nationally accredited, and it foster areas of early childhood development including cognitive, emotional, language, physical and social skills, Hagen said. The center operates all year long, and this year, due to changes in federal Pell Grant laws providing funds for students during spring and summer semester, Hagen expects the center will have a lot more children during that time than in the past. The center employs 12 teachers and 20 aides. Its budget is well over $1 million per year, Hagen said, of which more than 90 percent is subsidized by the college. Parents’ out-of-pocket payments account for less than 10 percent of operating revenue. Each classroom has two lead teachers, a part-time aide or two, and often a person from the “foster grandparents” program. All lead teachers at the school hold at least an associate’s degree and most have bachelor’s degrees, Hagen said. In lead teacher Sherri Cole’s classroom, as many as 16 children at one time can be there, although often there are fewer children than that due to the coming and going of students throughout the day. Cole, a lead teacher for more than 10 years, puts together a lesson plan every week, but the environment is definitely not rigid, she said. Play-based learning is essential at the preschool age, she added. “They’re definitely not sitting down all day long while they’re here,” she said. Cole is a graduate of WCC’s Child Care Professional program. As a pair of five-year-olds in her classroom work together to build a wooden railroad, she watches and notes: “They’re learning that others have needs that are different than their own, and that’s good.” Brown said her son, Drake, leaves the center every time chattering on about his experiences there. “It’s a really good experience for him,” she said.

Burst water pipe temporarily closes Children’s Center

Burst water pipe temporarily closes Children’s Center



Water damage to the Child Developement Center at Washtenaw Community College


When a water pipe burst in the Washtenaw Community College Children’s Center the start of finals week, it could’ve been a disaster. Parents needed to study and take their exams, and they counted on the Children’s Center to watch their children for a few hours. Thanks to many WCC departments, the Center wasclosed only one day. Trudi Hagen, director of the Center, said the college community came to the Center’s rescue right away, with many people calling her or stopping by to see what they could do to help. “We had every single crew in here – people from the grounds crew, the maintenance crew and the electrical people, all of them came in and worked their butts off,” she said. “They helped us get it together enough so at least the classrooms could be open.” The burst pipe on Dec. 14 caused damage to the ceiling and floor of the Center’s gym area and kitchen. Most items in the pantry had to be thrown out too, except for canned items and bottled juices. Damon Flowers, vice president of facilities development and operations confirms the cost of damages to be more than $10,000. At press time a specific number was not known. In addition to cleaning up the ceiling debris and water on the floor, workers took down all the drywall and insulation that was in the ceiling so mold wouldn’t develop, Hagen said. The burst water pipe was discovered by campus security during its regular rounds on campus, according to Ron Schebil, director of Campus Safety and Security. The Center will be open regularly on the first day of Winter semester classes, Jan. 11. Hagen hoped work would be completed on the gym by then so itc ould be opened, too.