Early Childhood Development Center at RCC

By Marilyn Washington / Special to Viewpoints

By Marilyn Washington / Special to Viewpoints

Many students attending Riverside Community College District are not all high school graduates fresh out of school. The campus has a variety of students striving for goals including parents. In order for these parents to complete their classes successfully childcare is needed.

 
At Riverside Community College District the Early Child Development Center offers assistance to mothers who attend school at the Riverside, Norco and Moreno Valley campuses.
 
The Early Childhood Development Center gets frequent visits from the Early Childhood Education Program students who come and observe the children and staff for class work purposes.
 
The classroom has glass windows allowing the observers to have visual access to the inside of the classrooms. The classrooms also have speakers on the outside so that the observers can hear the lessons taught to the children.
 
Jessica Larios of RCC says her son is learning a lot such as alphabets and sign language while attending the center.
 
“I wasn’t on the waitlist long,” she said.
 
 Not only is the center a place for learning it is a place for parents to comfortably leave their children while they attend class and study knowing their children are on campus.
 
“It is offensive to be called a daycare,” says Debbie Whitaker, the associate dean of the Early Childhood Education Program. Debbie says it also a place for the children to learn.
 
Students have priority when it comes to filling spaces at the center.
 
Why is it that out of all the children in the program only 25 percent belong to students?
 
The program is not limited to students. It is offered to parents in the community, UCR parents and employees of the District.
 
 “It is in my heart to help the students but the bills must be paid,” Whitaker states.
 
The Child Development Center opens Monday through Friday and currently accepts children from six weeks to pre-kindergarten.
 
The center had been opened Saturdays but was forced to scale back because of budget cuts.
 
Because the center is so convenient there is an open waiting list and spaces go quickly.
 
The staff consists of qualified individuals who all have permits, which there are six levels allowing them to work in the center with the children, teaching them social skills and good habits.
 
About 100 children per day attend the Child Development Center this fall semester.
 
With the center having so many advantages for students why is the student involvement so low?
 
Apparently the students attending college are not meeting the standards that must be set by the center.
 
Whitaker said it is vital that students bring their children five days a week so that the budget is met so that the program can be run successfully. The staff must be paid for the hard work they endure daily.
 
If a space on the waitlist opens the associate dean wants to give childcare assistance to a student but must offer it to community workers or employees of the district because they are filling all five days.
 
There are several students who attend Riverside Community College District three days a week who are receiving grants allowing them to only have to pay half of tuition giving them the opportunity to enroll their children in the program.
 
The Riverside Community College District was awarded a C-campus grant which provides tuition assistance to students, but if agencies and corporations could get involved to sponsor students more students can utilize the program.