By Andrea Jimenez
What every parent wants in a child care center is a safe and nurturing environment for their children while they are away. Cal Poly Pomona’s Children Center provides this atmosphere for CPP student-parents.
CPP’s Children Center was established in 1974 and is currently operated under the administration and support of Associated Students, Inc. However, it did not always have this support.
“The story that was passed on to me was that the student-parents needed somebody to watch their children while they attended school, so the student-parents were co-sharing the child care,” said Yvonne Bailey, director of the Children’s Center.
Bailey explained that student-parents would organize their class schedules to alternate among themselves taking care of their children. Everybody shared the responsibility of watching the children.
This informal daycare did not have a designated building. Whatever and wherever was open was where the children and student-parents went.
After difficult weather conditions, the unofficial children’s center was given a room in the old stables for shelter. It was evident there was a need for a children’s center so the student- parents went to ASI for support and the collaboration took place with Student Affairs and ASI.
The Children’s Center has since developed into an early education preschool and childcare center. The center is located in Building 116.
The Children Center has an average of 60 students that utilize the center and can accommodate up to 90 children for 246 full-time days per year. Currently, there are 72 children enrolled, that range from 2-5 years old.
According to its website, the center offers three principal programs:
1. Cal Poly preschool (fee-based)/General Child Care classrooms, which are available to families of varying income levels, for full or part day services.
2. Part-day State (free) funded preschool classes that assist low-income families.
3. A full-day State (free) Pre-Kindergarten Family Literacy classroom that focuses on family literacy services, this is also a State funded preschool class.
“If we don’t get enough students that are enrolling their children in the program, we go out and reach out to the community and we let the community come in and take up some of the slots, otherwise we lose the money,” said Bailey.
The center has two contracts with the California Department of Education to help fund the program. The first contract is the California State Preschool Program and the second is the General Child Care and Development; these contracts help subsidize the child care cost should the student-parents want full-time child care. In order to receive the subsidized cost, students have to have a need for the extra child care.
“They have to be going to school and be low income or working and be low income in order to be qualified for a full day [of child care].
The center also offers continuity of care.
“[This means] if you have a 2-year-old child and enroll your child in our program [your] child will stay with this team [of people],” said Bailey. “When your child turns three you move your child with the [same] team to the next class.”
This program benefits the child because they will be familiar with the teachers throughout their time at the center which allows the “team” to focus and address the child’s weaknesses and strengths.
“My son learns how to do things on his own, and he’s gaining confidence,” said Dora Monforte, a 2001 alumna whose child attends the Children’s Center.
Bailey pointed out that there are not many CSU schools that have continuity care for the children and are one of three schools that have established this program.
“You rarely hear kids crying at our center because they feel self-secure and they are self-confident,” said Bailey.
Student -parents who are enrolled in classes are also taken into consideration and are allotted time to study.
“We give [student-parents] two hours of study time for every unit they take,” said Bailey.
The center also offers Kid’s University, which is a summer program for children ages 6 through 12. The program is an active learning environment focusing on the academic colleges at CPP.
The children will have the opportunity to visit each of the colleges and learn about the possible careers each college can provide.
“We focus on the university,” said Bailey. “We’ll have guest speakers come in and talk about what it is if you get a degree from the College of Education and what you can do with it so we are trying to get them to already be thinking of careers.”
Child Care Access Means Parents In School is a grant that funds the summer program and allow students to enroll in summer school. Bailey explains the program is beneficial for not only the student-parents to get ahead in their studies, but also for the children.
“We start getting [the children] at an early age to start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up,” said Bailey.
Kid’s University is open to the public and is limited to 20 children per session.
On Thursday, the Children’s Center held its annual Thanksgiving theme lunch for the children and their parents. ASI and other faculty were invited to join the event as well.
“It’s like a thank you [lunch],” said Bailey.
James Garcia, chemical engineering transfer student, attended the event with his wife and two children and explained his appreciation for the center.
“It’s a great program,” said Garcia. “My daughter likes it.”
Garcia’s daughter, Olivia Garcia, attends the Children’s Center while he goes to class. He explains that he visits his daughter sometimes during his break in between classes.
Olivia was very enthusiastic about the event and enjoyed her dessert.
“I like pie,” said Olivia.
Laura Mishima/The Poly Post
More than just daycare
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