Parents put on waitlist as demand at children’s center increases

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allan_le_stdCal State Fullerton Children’s Center has been forced to place parents on a waitlist because the service does not have enough staff members available for child care.

“The waitlist is unfortunate, but common in children’s centers across the CSU because child care is a huge need,” said Associated Students, Inc. Executive Director Dave Edwards.

The center, founded in 1971, received $679,661 from ASI this year. Aside from ASI’s budget, the center receives funds from several contracts and grants. Its total budget is roughly $1.9 million a year.

Although ASI budgets a large amount to the center, contributions from individuals and grants also help the program, said ASI President Michael Badal.

“The need (of the Children’s Center) comes from the changing demographics of college students,” said Hang Nguyen, ASI Children’s Center interim director. “You are no longer getting what are so-called true freshman, the 18-year-old that comes in from high school.”

The center’s goal is to help student parents who would otherwise have difficulty attending class because they don’t have anyone to watch their children, she said.

82 percent of the $1.9 million budget the Children’s Center received this year is allocated to staff salaries, while 18 percent goes to operations.

“We try to keep operational costs a minimum. We are a nonprofit agency,” Nguyen said.

Expanding the Children’s Center is a budget issue and is the responsibility of the CSU Board of Directors, Edwards said.

It is more challenging to fund the Children’s Center compared to other services because it is one of the more expensive CSUF operations and serves relatively fewer students, he said.

The center has strict staff-to-child ratio that mandates no more than eight children per adult.

“When we speak about quality early care, the lower the ratio, the better care,” Nguyen said.

Center fees have two hourly rates for students and non-students, such as faculty and staff. Student rates range from $4.75 to $7.50, depending on age of child, while non-student rates range from $6.75 to $10.75.

The student rates are on a sliding scale based on income levels, Nguyen said. Around 80 percent of people who use the center are students, while the other 20 percent are composed of non-students.

The center is headed by a director, assistant director and program coordinator. Other positions include master and lead teachers, as well as fellowship lead teachers who assist the 150 children who are currently enrolled.

The center is mostly staffed by CSUF graduates who either have master’s teaching degrees or undergraduate degrees with childcare credentials, Nguyen said.

The center offers infant care, a service other care centers typically don’t offer. Infant care is very important in the United States, especially because the maternity and paternity privileges are not the same as in other countries, Nguyen said. The newborn to 3-year-old age groups are the most impacted.

With no plans of further expansion in place, Nguyen said that stretching the budget to serve CSUF’s population is something the center strives for.

“(Student) fees are going to a very needed service and impactful service,” Nguyen said. “Parents here graduate and they graduate at very high rates.”

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