The bright yellow room in the basement of a Northwest Washington church could be just another Sunday school classroom anywhere.
But it isn't. What makes it different is that for 12 hours a day, five days a week, the room is home to the Broadcasters Child Development Center. d
The center, in the Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church just off Tenley Circle, was put together by local TV and radio broadcasters who needed a well-run day-care faciltiy that was near their offices and open during their often erratic working hours.
Many of the parents of children enrolled in the center are members of the D.C. chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The subject of day care kept cropping up at meetings, and the establishment of a day-care center became a chapter goal.
Selecting a site, meeting zoning requirements, finding funds and persuading D.C. TV and radio stations that the project was worthwhile took two years, according to center director Abby Dodge. Center board members were able to convince five area stations that participation in the project would benefit both the community and station employes.
Armed with financial aid from the five outfits -- which include WJLA-TV, WDVM-TV, WTTG-TV, WRC/NBC and WMAL radio -- and with the consent of the Rev. Warren Raws, pastor of Wisconsin Avenue Baptist, the center opened its doors at the end of January.
Although the facility is intended primarily for use of parents who work at nearby TV and radio stations, Dodge says there are some slots held open for the children of community residents.
And already there is a waiting list.
Dodge says the center is one of only two in the District licensed to care for infants. Because of this, some expectant parents have enrolled their children before birth.
Sara Clark, an administrative assistant at WDVM-TV, is one such parent. Her 17-month-old daughter, Erin, already attends the center, and Clark plans to enroll her second child when she returns to work after its birth in September.
"Having the center available to us has made things so much easier," says Clark, whose husband works a long and often irregular schedule with the FBI.
"I also think that it shows a real commitment that management has made to the employes," Clark added. "Employe loyalty on line jobs is important, and I think they realized that more women would come back to work if they had a well-run, nearby place to leave their children."
The center's $225-a-month tuition doesn't seem excessive to Clark, although she says she and her husband will be "strapped" with two youngsters in day care.
"But it's not so much when you consider she's right across the street from me, and the center is right on the way to my office," said Clark, who visits her daugher at the center two or three times a week.
Tuition for children in the 3-to-5-year-old group is $200 per month.
Director Dodge says that in a city where parents often must work just to make ends meet, facilities like the Broadcasters Day Care Center offer parents a valuable alternative.
"In a sense, we reinforce the notion that home and professional responsibilities needn't always conflict. Broadcasting is a competitive industry . . . in fact, a career of any kind in the media is especially taxing for a woman. You lose a lot of time and momentum if you keep trying to come into and out of it.
"I see the centers as a way in which a major industry can demonstrate its commitment to employe needs. It would be ideal if other types of businesses would follow our lead."