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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    The Future Begins With Our Children

    Laughter and playful yelling fill the halls of Stony Brook University‘s Child Care Services Center everyday. Servicing the University, hospital, and the surrounding town, Child Care Services, Inc. (SBCCSI), provides a temporary daytime home for our community’s children. This not-for-profit center, established over 35 years ago, in 1971, has become indispensable to the families where at least one parent is employed or enrolled at the University or Health Science Center.

    The Child Care Services Center, located on the West Campus in a new facility which was completed in 2001, strives to provide a ‘homelike setting’ for its children with ‘dedicated teachers’ who promote ‘creative learning,’ said Denise Masone, Program Director of the Center. Licensed to house up to 160 children between the ages of 2 months and 5 years, the center is a full-day preschool and daycare. Its mission is to afford the community with ‘developmentally appropriate’ and ‘child-centered’ child care as well as serve as a teaching model for university students.

    According to Masone, many academic and hospital departments within the University use the facility for teaching purposes. These include the Departments of Child and Family Studies, Linguistics, Pediatrics, Occupational Therapy and the School of Nursing. Additionally, the SBCCSI has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) since 1990, and thus upholds the ‘highest standards of Early Childhood Education,’ said Masone.

    Walking through the SBCCSI center, one finds eight classrooms in which the children are separated into two different multi-age groups – infant/toddler and preschool. The infant/toddler group is for children between 2 months and 3 years of age and has 3 dedicated ‘mini-centers.’ Similarly, the preschool group has five ‘mini-center’ classrooms for children between 3 and 5 years. Each classroom is entirely self-sufficient, complete with a kitchen, play area, crib or cot room, bathroom, messy room, and a backyard.

    One will not find in each room, however, a television or computer station. According to Masone, SBCCSI believes in ‘creative learning’ and ‘closely follows the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).’ The AAP suggests that ‘pure toys’ such as building blocks and puzzles, rather than the commercial toys found at the average toy store, ‘promote active learning’ and ‘foster healthy mental and emotional development.’ The toys used in these playrooms must have some kind of educational value, according to Masone.

    Reading and dramatic play are highly integrated into the learning experience of every child. Also, the children are encouraged to ‘tell stories and share playtime’ with children of other cultures to help prepare them for the ‘global environment’ in which they live, explains Masone.

    At the SBCCSI Center, ‘meeting all the social, educational and emotional needs of the children’ is their main goal. All eight classrooms are thus arranged with the children in mind. The high chairs in the infant/toddler room, for example, are at eye level with the toddler tables and chairs in order to create a more balanced social environment.

    The walls of the Center are decorated with the children’s artwork. The art sessions at the SBCCSI are conducted in a ‘free-form’ manner, said Masone. Each child is provided with art materials and subsequently encouraged to create artwork from their own inspiration.

    According to Masone, the AAP warns against ‘over-scheduling’ a child’s activities. Hence, at the Center, children are allowed to treat their classroom like a ‘home away from home.’ Although a light schedule is implemented and activities are planned for throughout the day, the children are always allowed to ‘take it easy.’

    In addition to providing teaching and childcare services for the children it houses, the SBCCSI is ‘proud to be a support group’ for the parents in this community, said Masone. ‘Many of these children are from single parent households or are from families that just displaced from their familiar environments into this anonymous academic setting,’ she explained.

    Parents are often invited to attend events and meetings at the center itself in order to promote dialogue and relationships among themselves. ‘Here at Child Care Services we try to provide the best in community-oriented childcare, and that includes catering to the needs of the parents as well,’ concludes Masone.

    As the Center is a not-for-profit organization, it relies on outside sources to help meets its yearly financial requirements. The budget is monitored very closely by the center’s board of directors. For the SBCCSI budget, ‘every year is a crisis,’ chuckles Masone.

    Although funded mainly by tuition fees, the SBCCSI also relies on University support and state grants. A small portion of the much despised University Activity Fee is donated to the center. Student academic groups such as the USG and GSO also provide support.

    In addition to the outside financial support the Child Care Services Center receives, it also relies on fundraising events to help meet its budget. SBCCSI hosts a yearly fundraising event in the spring at the Student Activities Center called the ‘Cash Bonanza.’ For an entrance fee of $50, the participants are treated to a dessert and coffee tasting as well as cash prize drawings, all in the name of benefiting the children.

    Student involvement is instrumental to smooth operation at the Child Care Services center. Approximately 50 student interns work at the center in 9 hour weekly shifts as part of a 6 credit internship opportunity for the Child and Family Studies (CFS) minor offered at the Univer
    sity. These students must complete a three-credit ‘Practicum in Child Development’ and undergo a series of three hour training sessions that ‘help put theory into practice’ to work at the Center, explains Masone. To supplement the prerequisites required for the internship, an application and interview are also needed.

    ‘The Child Care Services internship is an excellent learning opportunity for both the participating students as well as for the staff and children,’ says Masone. The interns work with the teachers to help them plan activities and aide the children in play and routine.

    Stony Brook Child Care Services, Inc., is an integral part of the Stony Brook University community. The center boasts year round child care with a ‘child centered educational philosophy’ as well as access to University faculty and resources. It maintains a stringent standard of excellence and responsibility to the community by striving to provide a ‘national model child care program.’

    Denise Masone concludes that the Child Care Services center aims to be ‘a second home’ for children where they can thrive and learn in an environment of ‘safety and trust.’ Stony Brook Child Care says that ‘the future begins with our children.’

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