At the northwest corner of campus, Cal State Fullerton’s youngest Titans are reaching higher at the University’s Children’s Center.
With six vibrant classrooms, a large yard, swings, sand piles and pet turtles, the center offers a safe haven for infants and toddlers of CSUF students working to complete their degrees. This semester, 152 children are enrolled at the center, ranging in age from 3 months to 5 years old.
“It really is an amazing place, and my kids are so happy there,” said Mary Brown, a senior psychology major who has two children enrolled in the center. She says the center allows her to carve out time for her studies and prepare for graduate school.
“The Children’s Center keeps me sane,” said Brown. “As a student, I feel very lucky to have access to such a wonderful center.”
Operated by Associated Students, Inc., the Children’s Center was founded 45 years ago and has a long tradition of serving CSUF families. The center recently achieved its five-year reaccreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the gold standard for early childhood programs across the country.
“We’re not just a daycare; we’re about child development,” said Hang Nguyen, interim director for the Children’s Center. “Because we often are the first experiences for children outside of their families, there’s real intentionality in the curriculum planning and in the development of quality relationships.”
And it’s not just students who benefit from the center. Twenty percent of the child care spaces are reserved for Titan faculty and staff.
“Because we’re here, faculty are able to teach and do their research,” said Nguyen. “It allows them peace of mind so they can continue to do excellent work for the University.”
With 14 staff members, 67 student assistants and 15 student interns, the center serves another important purpose: providing hands-on learning opportunities for students from a variety of academic disciplines.
Kat Homen, a senior child and adolescent studies major, is beginning her third year as a student aide at the Children’s Center. Applying the theories she learns in class to her work, Homen says she has seen firsthand the development of children from walking and talking to cognitive development and reasoning.
“One of the best things about working at the center is that you get to see the full spectrum of child development,” said Homen, who hopes to pursue a career in social work or elementary education. “I definitely know that I want to work with kids in the future.”
During the 2015-16 academic year, the center hosted 543 student visitors for class projects in child and adolescent studies, psychology, health science, human services, kinesiology and more.
“We open our doors for visitors and observers, always making sure the children are healthy and safe,” said Nguyen. “It is an incredible learning experience.”