The History of the Children's Center at USC
The USC Childrenís Center
Campus childcare has a long history at the University of
South Carolina. The USC Childrenís Center was first located in the
former fire station that stood near the corner of S. Main and
College Streets, across from Wardlaw College, home of the College of
Education. Itís been said that Strom Thurmond once slid down the
brass firemanís pole, much to the childrenís delight! In its early
years the Center was a part-time program designed, for the most
part, to meet the needs of researchers studying young children and
early childhood education.
The launch of federally sponsored Head Start preschool programs in
the mid-1960s attracted the publicís attention to young children and
early childhood education. At that time the USC Childrenís Center,
operated under the auspices of the College of Education, began
serving Head Start children and moved to larger facilities in a
section of the former Booker T. Washington High School on Blossom
Street. When it moved to BTW the Center became a full time, year
Ďround program serving children from six weeks to 4 years old. The
Center made its home at Booker T. Washington from the mid-1960s
USCís master plan for campus revitalization developed in the 1990s
included plans to construct a new residential quad on the site then
occupied by the Childrenís Center. That meant that either the Center
would close permanently or a new home would need to be ready before
the buildingís demolition, scheduled for August 1998. For awhile it
looked like the Center would be eliminated, but eventually a
decision was made to temporarily house the Center in portable units
located on Whaley Street. Those portable units were the Centerís
home from August 1998 until September 2003.
Child Development and Research Center
In the fall of 2000 Dr. Jerry Odom, then Provost of USC,
worked closely with Dr. Susie VanHuss, Executive Director of the USC
Foundations, to create the partnership that would make a new
childcare center on USCís campus a reality.
In September 2003 the two-story 28,000 sq ft USC/Gateway Child
Development and Research Center (CDRC) opened its doors.
The first floor was the USC/Gateway Child Development Center
licensed to serve 200 children between 6 weeks and 11years of age.
The Centerís 12 classrooms were designed to accommodate children
from six weeks to 5 years of age. The facility also included a
commercial kitchen, administrative and staff areas, and a
lunchroom/activity room and older children used as their home base.
The Yvonne and Schuyler Moore Child Development Research Center
occupies the second floor of the CDRC. It features research and
observation areas for university researchers; a technology-enhanced
classroom for adult learners; an adult classroom with advanced
digital audiovisual, internet and TV production capabilities; and an
activity room, parenting center and art studio.
Partners who participated in the establishment of the USC/Gateway
Child Development and Research Center included:
The Childrenís Center at USC
- USC Development Foundation made the $500,000 property near
the southwest corner of Wheat and Pickens Streets available for
- Gateway Academy Child Development Centers lent construction
oversight as well as operational and management expertise.
- SC Department of Health and Human Services, the stateís lead
child care agency, provided for the Centerís design and
equipping following recommendations of the WestEd Program for
Infant/Toddler Caregivers; the design and construction of the
state-of-the-art playground; and the design and equipping of the
2nd floor advanced AV classroom to establish the Center as a
statewide quality early care and education model.
- South Carolina Educational Television provided children and
staff of SC ETVís Children's Place the opportunity to join the
project. SC-ETV also brought their technical resources including
its extensive digital satellite network for use in distance
education, and its wealth of experience in producing "best
practices" video training and distance learning resources for
early care and education.
- South Carolina Department of Education lent the Center the
services of its first director in an effort to ensure its
success implementing best practices in early care and education.
- Faculty from various areas across the USC campus
participated in the planning and establishment of the Research
- The Yvonne and Schuyler Moore Family Foundationís generous
support made the 2nd floor Child Development Research Center a
In November 2005 the USC Foundations assumed ownership of
the campus childcare facility and established the Childrenís Center
at USC. The Childrenís Center continued providing high quality early
care and educational programming for up to 200 children from six
weeks to 12 years of age under its new auspices without
interruption. The Center was awarded accreditation by the National
Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in July
2006. This hallmark of quality means the Center has achieved a
standard of excellence shared by just 5-6% of childcare centers in
The Childrenís Center at USC is now 501(c)(3) a non-profit organization whose
purpose is to provide a high-quality program of early care and
education for the young children of USC faculty, staff, and students
as well as for the general public. The Center supports the
Universityís educational, scientific inquiry, instructional,
research, service, charitable and outreach endeavors.
The Center values inclusion and actively seeks diversity. It strives
to serve families who represent a wide range of educational, racial,
ethnic, national and economic backgrounds. The Center welcomes all
children who can participate in, and benefit from its programming.
The Center is proud of its diverse and well-qualified staff. They
are well-trained professionals who enjoy collaborative relationships
with USC faculty with varied expertise and experiences.
The Childrenís Center at USC is governed by a Board of Directors.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of the Centerís Governing
Board is the Executive Director of the USC Foundations. Other
members of the Governing Board include representatives from the USC
Foundations, leaders in the stateís early care and education
community, and a faculty member from the College of Educationís
Early Childhood program area.
The Childrenís Centerís Advisory Committee assists the director and
addresses issues related to the Centerís day-to-day operations. Its
members include representatives from the Centerís administration,
staff, and families; agencies involved at the Center; and USC
faculty with expertise in Early Childhood Education.
The Childrenís Center at USC contributes to USC and the greater
Columbia community in a number of critical ways:
- The Center provides high quality early care and education
for children from six weeks to 12 years of age.
- USC faculty and student researchers have access to the
center for research and observation.
- USC students from education, nursing, psychology, art,
music, medicine, the library school, and others are regularly
involved with children attending the Center as part of their
- South Carolina Department of Social Services (ABC Child Care
uses the center as a training site and statewide model for
quality early care and education.
- The Center is committed to forging additional partnerships
with agencies, organizations and individuals striving to ensure
all young children access to comprehensive high quality early
care and education.