The Santa Fe Community College has put its Early Childhood Development Center under new supervision in an attempt to help the popular service become more financially viable.

At the regular meeting of the SFCC Governing Board Thursday evening, SFCC VP of Finance Meridee Walters announced that Bob McWilliams, SFCC's assistant VP with Business Services, will be in charge of charting the ECDC's new course.

At a June 16 meeting, SFCC's board questioned the college's ability to continue to fund the center, which will cost it about $330,000-$350,000 this year. The center serves some low-income families, including SFCC students, who pay for child care through subsidies from the state Children Youth and Families Department. The ECDC is one of many child care centers in Santa Fe that have faced financial challenges since CYFD reduced the amount of those subsidies.

Although Board Chair Linda Siegle previously told SFR that she had serious questions about whether SFCC can continue to justify the cost of the center for the benefit of relatively few SFCC students, Walters seemed optimistic when she announced the options McWilliams will explore. Increased advertising is one avenue SFCC will pursue, creating brochures with parent testimonials in an attempt to increase enrollment.

That shouldn't be difficult, considering the outpouring of positive feedback ECDC got from parents at a June 15 informational meeting. Parents lauded the highly-educated staff and the developmental accomplishments they noticed in their children as a result of the center's approach.

"We're going to really focus on the marketing aspect and rearranging the way we deliver the services," Walters tells SFR.

In addition to increased marketing, the ECDC will explore different classroom configurations to maximize the use of staff, Walters says. McWilliams will also explore reducing the number of CYFD-subsidized families using the center, and seek public and private funding grants to help. The Brindle Foundation, a nonprofit based in Santa Fe, has already come forward as a possible donor.