Children’s Center lends a hand to student-parents

The Associated Students' Children's Center provides a safe environment for children to learn and interact while their parents attend classes. Children can paint and do other arts and crafts while at the center which cares for children between the ages of 18 months and 5-years-old. Photo credit: Trevor Stamp/ The Sundial
The Associated Students' Children's Center provides a safe environment for children to learn and interact while their parents attend classes. The Center cares for children between the ages of 18 months and 5-years-old. Photo credit: Trevor Stamp/ The Sundial
The Associated Students’ Children’s Center provides a safe environment for children to learn and interact while their parents attend classes. The Center cares for children between the ages of 18 months and 5-years-old. Photo credit: Trevor Stamp/ The Sundial

When senior and public health major Amanda Pritchard was expecting her first child, she carried with her the seemingly impossible responsibility of passing her classes, while making sure her son received proper care when she was away.

Although Pritchard will have to take some time off from school, she is put at ease by the thought that her education won’t have to be put on hold by the arrival of her child.

Pritchard expects to take advantage of the Children’s Center, a childhood program devoted to providing a safe environment for children combined with planned learning activities.

The Children’s Center helps student-parents juggle their educational and parental responsibilities.

Since it first opened its doors to CSUN students and the surrounding community in 1973, the center has alleviated the extra strain placed on parents. Pritchard remains hopeful about the program and is relieved that she will have the support of the center when the time comes for her to go back to school.

“It makes things easier to be able to drop off your child and pick them up from the same place you’re going to everyday,” said Pritchard. “I will be able to make it to class on time and have my child close to me in case of any emergencies.”

The center propels an intellectually and socially stimulating setting for children with the guidance of experienced staff members. Gina De La Barcena, the Children’s Center officer coordinator, said the program delivers a unique service that allows parents to thrive in a college environment.

“Our purpose here is to help serve students who have children so that they can finish their school education and get some quality care for their child,” said De La Barcena.
Currently, the center cares for children who are 18 months through five years of age.

Associated Students (AS) aims to help student-parents by making the enrollment process affordable and convenient for those interested in attending. College students with children are usually challenged financially. Over 75 percent of student-parents are considered low-income according, to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Although fees at the center depend on the income of the family, up to 40 percent of the spaces are funded by the California Department of Education.

Children also reap the benefits of participating in this program, since the facility offers developmental activities such as block building, painting and active outdoor play.

The center organizes field trips to places such as the Conejo Valley Botanical Garden, Underwood Family Farms and the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. While parents are earning an education, their children are too, by being proactive and exploring the outdoors.

“Children are learning, so whether they are learning their ABCs, their numbers or science, all of that is incorporated through play engagement with the staff,” said De La Barcena.

Without the support of this center, student parents like Pritchard may not have been able to attend school.

From the certified staff members to the nutritious meals provided through the day, the services the center offers can go a long way in helping children develop into healthy adults.

Undeclared student Yanely Zacarias plans on enrolling her child into the Children’s Center as soon as she reaches the right age. Zacarias is comforted by the proximity of her child while she is at school.

“I feel more comfortable with having my daughter closer to me while in school,” said Zacarias. “I love the security of knowing that if something is wrong, I can walk out of class and she will be steps away.”

The Associated Students' Children's Center provides a safe environment for children to learn and interact while their parents attend classes. Children can paint and do other arts and crafts while at the center which cares for children between the ages of 18 months and 5-years-old. Photo credit: Trevor Stamp/ The Sundial
The Associated Students’ Children’s Center provides a safe environment for children to learn and interact while their parents attend classes. Children can paint and do other arts and crafts while at the center which cares for children between the ages of 18 months and 5-years-old. Photo credit: Trevor Stamp/ The Sundial