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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 until 1998.

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.

USC/Gateway 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:

  • USC Development Foundation made the $500,000 property near the southwest corner of Wheat and Pickens Streets available for this use.
  • 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 Center.
  • The Yvonne and Schuyler Moore Family Foundationís generous support made the 2nd floor Child Development Research Center a reality.
The Childrenís Center at USC
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 nation.

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 educational experiences.
  • South Carolina Department of Social Services (ABC Child Care Program)
    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.