You’ve seen them around. Whether in a red wagon rolling across the Quad, or in a neat single file line at the Arctic Museum, the toddlers and infants in Bowdoin Children’s Center programs  are hard to miss. 

When the Center opened 25 years ago, it was stationed in a trailer, according to Associate Director Anne Brooks. Later, the Center moved to the yellow house on 4 South Street.

“I believe that when we were [located in the yellow house], we were only open to preschool children,” she said. 

The current facility on South Street was built 11 years ago, and has allowed the Center to accommodate a greater number of children and better serve families. Today, the Center offers care from birth through age five, and according to its website, can serve 43 children at any one time.

The Center is owned and run by the College, with an operating budget comprised of tuition paid by parents and additional money provided by Bowdoin. 

Tuition costs vary from $400 to $1,000 per month, depending on a child’s age and the number of hours per week spent at the Center. 

The Center does not offer financial aid for families who cannot afford its tuition.

“We have done extensive research about the market rate value of full time child care for birth through age five in the Brunswick area,” wrote Brooks in an email to the Orient. “We have a good understanding of what the tuition trends are and our rates are not higher than those you would find at other centers in the area. In fact, they are lower.”

Nearly all of the children enrolled at the Center are the offspring of current Bowdoin faculty and staff. At the moment, there are two waitlists: one for Bowdoin families and one for community families who have no employment connection to the College.

“When we have an opening, we go through the Bowdoin families first...and offer them the spot. If they all turn it down, we then go to the community waitlist,” said Brooks. 

Kate Stern, the director of the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, has three-year-old twins enrolled in the Center.

“My two boys love going,” she said. “I’m home on Mondays with them, and this Monday, they were begging, ‘Can we go to school?’ They love their teachers, their friends, what they get to do.”

As a parent, Stern said she is pleased that the Center takes advantage of Bowdoin’s campus to offer a richer experience for all students involved. 

“Last week, they got to visit the museum and [look at] art and play on the museum steps,” Stern said. 

She noted that sometimes children are taken to the top of Coles Tower to look over Brunswick.
Nicole Smith ’16, who worked at the Center last year, said that problems often arose with both communication and organization. 

“I think the staff struggled to keep things consistent and organized, and sometimes I thought they were a little too strict,” Smith said. “For me, working with the young kids was often the highlight of my day, but working with the faculty [at the Center] got pretty tricky sometimes.”

Brooks said she attributed any difficulties to the shift in management that occurred two years ago. The Center was forced to abandon certain outdated practices in order to be reaccredited, but Brooks declined to give specifics. 

“The College understood that we were at risk for not being reaccredited, and so that caused a push for a change, and for new administration,” said Brooks. 

The Center works to constantly maintain the highest quality care possible, according to Brooks. 

“Bowdoin College is the gold standard, and we should be too,” said Brooks. “We should be proud of the child care that we offer. We are going to be the best in the state, if we can.”

The Center also provides opportunities for Bowdoin students in psychology courses. According to its website, students in Infant and Child Development—a 2000-level psychology course—can work as interns and observe education at the Center two hours each week.