Since the closure of Cal State Fullerton’s Children’s Center earlier this year, it has continued to support families enrolled at the university through its free services.
“When we closed in March one of the things that we wanted to ensure is that we continue to provide services to our families and to the Fullerton community,” said Lydia Palacios, director of the Children’s Center. “Everything is pretty much run through our website now.”
The virtual services offered include advice for parents on handling their children during the pandemic, family advisement appointments and curriculum activities.
If a parent or family wishes to hold an advisement appointment with the center’s director, assistant director or a master teacher, they can complete an online form to notify the center of the needed assistance..
Some topics for parental advice and resources include adjusting to the new at-home schedule, new activity ideas to keep children engaged at home, effective communication and setting limits for adolescents.
The center currently has 13 staff members working in the virtual program, compared to the 121 during pre-pandemic, according to the center’s website. The building also had 321 children enrolled during the spring semester.
Palacios said that by the end of the spring semester, the Children’s Center had serviced 136 enrolled families, but they would not be able to accommodate that same size in classrooms with social distancing guidelines.
“‘The teachers are doing such a wonderful job virtually with the kids, it’s like they’re not missing a beat and I want my child to be there,’” Keya Allen, Associated Students’ associate executive director said. “It just speaks to the care that’s coming out of that children’s center and they have all their virtual services on the website.”
The center operates and is funded by the university’s Associated Students, also known as ASI, an auxiliary and student government organization, as well as state grants.
“The Children’s Center has been run by ASI for 41 years now,” Palacios said. “It’s just a program that is run, funded and hosted by ASI.”
The center does not have a reopening date in the foreseeable future. Once health regulations permit, the Children’s Center plans to reopen and give top enrollment priority to the previously registered families who are considered low-income.
“If we do reopen, obviously there are a lot of changes in our industry, one of the things is the group sizes are going to be much smaller and very different,” Palacios said. “Our main priority would be our low-income families, and that would drive us actually opening and determining how many spaces and slots open up.”
Palacios added that the center ended with 136 enrolled families, but due to the nature of the industry, they will not be able to accommodate that size for some time out of precaution.
The staff is constantly in communication with directors at other CSU children centers, and state level individuals to project when and how the center will reopen.
One definite plan of action upon reopening the center is to reduce the group sizes to ensure the health and safety of the students, children and staff.
Last week, Orange County moved to the second tier on the statewide COVID-19 ranking list, allowing non-essential businesses such as gyms to reopen after months of closure.
Under the current tier system, childcare services are eligible to reopen with modifications, such as disinfecting high-touch surfaces, taking body temperatures before entering the facility and requiring face coverings for workers and children over the age of 2
Yet, schools may not open until the county can remain in the substantial tier for at least two weeks. During this time, school officials may then decide whether to resume in-class instruction with modifications.
“The biggest challenge has been not to be able to see our families and children,” Palacios said.
The Children's Center’s virtual services are located at https://asi.fullerton.edu/childrens-center.