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Dedication of the Rainforest Kids Child Development CenterHato Rey, Puerto Rico

Remarks as prepared for delivery
By Stephen A. Perry
Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration

Dedication of the Rainforest Kids Child Development Center
Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

March 20, 2002


Buenas dias. Good morning.

I would like to thank all of you for joining us today. I am so pleased to be here. The opening of a new child development center is always a cause for celebration and a time of optimism and hope.

It means that another group of parents and children will benefit from the experience, expertise and creativity that GSA child care associates and the dedicated child care providers bring to their work everyday.

I'm sure that all of us who are parents and have had the benefit of child care centers know how important it is to have quality child care services available.

With the reassurance that our children are being well-cared for and learning new things each day in a secure and stimulating environment, we are better able to focus on our own work and deal with life's other daily challenges.

Rainforest Kids is the newest of 110 child care centers in buildings managed by the General Services Administration and our first center in the Caribbean. We believe quality child care in GSA facilities is a great benefit that we are able to provide for federal families, as well as for parents in the community.

And how lucky these children are to be able to spend each weekday in such a splendid place. San Juan architect Fred Muhlach has designed a first-rate facility with interesting angles and spaces and rooms and lots of color and light to engage the children. This center could really be the model for what all child care centers ought to be.

And Lider Construction Corporation, also of San Juan, has done an admirable job of translating that design into concrete and steel.

I know many people have put in a tremendous amount of work to bring this project to its unofficial opening in January and now to completion.

I would like to recognize some of those people. Eileen Stern, Director of GSA's Office of Child Care, has done a marvelous job of carrying this project forward from planning to completion¿while working mostly from a different time zone!

GSA associates Ramon Ramos (project manager), Wanda Cadilla (contracting officer) and Sidney Lincoln (child care coordinator) have also worked tirelessly to get us to this day.

I would also like to thank Frances Rios de Moran of the Federal Executives Association of Puerto Rico who has been a staunch supporter of this project over a long period of time.

With completion of construction, Aida HerransBbarreras, Director of the Rainforest Kids Center, and Damaris Delgado-Vega, President of the Center's Board, move on to the more challenging and far-reaching responsibility - filling the center with children and deciding all that the children will learn and do while they are here. They bring extensive
experience to the task. Their organization - Investigaciones Cientificas y Proyectos Educativos de Puerto Rico¿has collaborated on the development and training of 265 child care centers on the island.

There is no more important work than providing a firm foundation for our children's futures. Whether the children spend the entire day here or come after school, we know they are in a good and safe place and that they are learning and growing and being challenged while they are here. This center is really a big investment in the next generation.

I know the center has been a long time in the planning, but I think we would all agree that the end result was definitely worth the wait. Rainforest Kids now has the capacity to open its doors to more than 100 federal and community children.

Rainforest Kids are the future. This center is a wonderful place for them to begin their journey.

"Para todos usteds que han ayudado en hacer este sueno una realidad, merecen un grande aplauso sincero de todos."

"Everyone who has helped to make this dream a reality deserves our most sincere thanks."