CSUN administration closes Infant Lab school

Oscar Areliz

The CSUN infant lab school is permanently closing May 26, according to Jerry Harrel-Smith, program director.

The infant toddler program at the Child and Family Studies Center will be permanently closed due to the center being understaffed for the services it provides.

The decision was made a month ago by Harry Hellenbrand, CSUN provost, along with other CSUN officials, to “phase out” the program after a review.

The review showed that the center was significantly understaffed to support such a program, he said.

“It’s a general problem that when we have small enterprises, you don’t have the administration focus on what we need to do well (in),” Hellenbrand said.

The children in the program were transferred to the Associated Students Children’s Center, which is across the street from the Infant lab center, and will remain there until the end of the semester, said John Chandler, CSUN spokesperson.

An end to the infant toddler program does not mean the center will be closed, Chandler said.

The center will remain open for preschool and kindergarten services, he said.

The center was temporarily closed in March due to an investigation of an alleged battery of a child. A lab school employee was arrested, but no charges were filed.

The sudden ending of the program was not due to the incident that happened in March, Hellenbrand said.

“(The program ended) just because of some of the administration issues we did not know of before,” Hellenbrand said. “We even had difficulty collecting the right names and numbers of parents to contact them.”

“It precipitated us to look at the structure,” he added. “After review, the administration was too thin to make sure you have supervisory depth.”

There are currently no plans of re-opening a similar program in the future within the center, Chandler said.

Despite the incident earlier in the semester, some parents still showed interests in the other programs, Hellenbrand said.

The parents of the children enrolled in the infant toddler program and those on the waiting list that were still interested were allowed to be put on the list for the preschool and kindergarten program, Chandler said.

The programs offered have had high praise from parents that have children in the program, said Phyllis Wang, senior IT consultant at CSUN.

“I heard from another coworker that the lab school here is a good school,” Wang said, who tried enrolling her baby son into the program, but was put on the waiting list. “I liked it because they were students trying to get a degree, so they must be good and love kids.”

News of the arrest concerned some parents, including Wang.

“I was shocked at what happened,” she said. “I am not going to send my son there unless that person is not working there anymore.”

Wang has not ruled out enrolling her son in the other programs, such as the preschool program.

“I want to know them and feel safer,” Wang said.

The infant toddler program was implemented into the center in 2002. It was open to the community to take care of infants and toddlers and help develop them, which would eventually include preschool and kindergarten, Chandler said.

The program did not have many children. It only had about a dozen, compared to the dozens enrolled in the preschool and kindergarten program has. The program was so popular that it had a waiting list. Some parents even enrolled their child before they were born.

The main reason for having the programs in the center is for students to get their degrees, Chandler said.

Students working in the center are studying in the department of family and consumer sciences, which is in the college of health and human development. The center also has teachers supervising the students working for their degrees.

“It is primarily a training ground for students in the college, for students studying childcare,” Chandler said.