Penn State

Penn State to contract with private company to manage Bennett Family Center

Penn State is turning over the keys of the on-campus Bennett Family Center to a private company in what university officials said is a move focused on improving efficiency.

Penn State announced Tuesday that it will pay Hildebrandt Learning Centers, of Dallas, Luzerne County, an annual fee to manage 33 full-time employees, payroll, scheduling and other logistical needs at the Bennett Center, which has 135 children enrolled. The company already runs the Hort Woods child care center, where 162 children are enrolled.

Both centers will continue to be overseen by the College of Health and Human Development, said Dean Ann Crouter.

University spokeswoman Lisa Powers said Hildebrandt is paid $50,000 to manage the Hort Woods center, and she expected the contract for the Bennett Center to be a similar amount. The contract has not been signed, and the amount was not available, she said.

“The goal of this change is about efficiency, not money,” Powers said. “This is a move that will allow the college to focus on its strengths. Our hope is that some of the synergies, efficiencies and economies of scale gained through this arrangement will help us be more efficient and effective in providing a quality education to children.”

The full-time staff at both centers will become Hildebrandt employees. Thirty-one of the 38 workers at the Hort Woods center are already Hildebrandt employees.

The takeover begins Aug. 19.

Crouter said the move makes sense for her college, which will be able to focus on “our strengths in educational programming, quality of care, research and teaching.”

Crouter said Penn State students will still be able to get firsthand knowledge about child care and learning at the centers.

Powers said the College of Health and Human Development will create an internship program that will provide students to both centers. The interns will also help the university meet the requirements on its policy on providing supervision of minors at campus programs.