New center in its infancy
After spending over a decade in multiple buildings, the Children's Center moved to its new location on South Street. The doors to its new red building opened on January 14, and received "a glorious response from all of us," Rhode Ann Jones said.
The Children's Center's new building "was designed and built purposely for young children," Jones said. "It's design and construction is superb." The new center sports a brightly colored décor inside and out, and the windows are low enough to accommodate curious young faces. Housing programs for four different age groups, it contains a room for each program, one with a play loft, two napping rooms with monitors, two kitchens, two play decks, and indoor and outdoor storage space as well as an office.
"The children love it for so many reasons the rooms are designed for them, the outside light fills the rooms, and they are all together under one roof," Jones said. "It is a total joy for everyone to be here."
She said there were very few problems with the adjustment to the new center, "it has the same furniture and the same people, but the space is much improved."
Parents and staff alike point to the benefits of housing the entire program in one building. This setup allows for interaction between the staff members, and facilitates children's transitions between programs. Classics Professor Jennifer Kosak pointed to the benefits for her two children, as she said, "[They] can occasionally see each other during the day and can also see their former and future care-givers, which provides a better sense of continuity."
"Drop-off and pick-up is much easier in one building, and the space is arranged in a way that allows for relaxed transitions into and out of the programs," Religion Professor Elizabeth Pritchard said, who has two children in the day care program.
Last week's Toddler Newsletter revealed the staff's views, "The entire group of caregivers [is] excited to be able to see each other on a daily basis we are so grateful to be a complete unit at last."
State licensing inspectors and the National Association for the Education of Young Children recommended that the Children's Center relocate to a single, one-story building.
The Center formerly resided in a two-story house and two modulars on South Street. A planning committee formed in 2000 and worked with an architect in order to "begin the process of planning and then building a building for the Center which would meet our program needs," Jones said. Construction began in July, and ended around the beginning of January.
"The fact that the college invested in this center is very meaningful to me as a parent and as a woman on the faculty," Chemistry Professor Beth Stemmler said, who was a parent representative on the Building Committee. "It sent a positive message to families." The College provided a one million dollar bond to help finance the building of the center, and a parent of a Bowdoin alum donated an additional $250,000.
The center generally cares for approximately 40 children a day, divided into age groups of infants, younger toddlers, older toddlers, and preschoolers-the largest unit. Each program has two full-time caregivers and a part-time caregiver.