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Humboldt State Plans Annex Update for Children’s Center

HSU to repurpose Trinity Annex building into larger Children’s Center with $8.6 million grant

Starting this semester, Humboldt State University will begin to redesign the Trinity Annex building at the corner of 14th and B streets into an updated facility to house a new Children’s Center. The current Children’s Center facility will continue child services until it moves in 2021.

“We want folks that are going to be in the building to give feedback as to what it should look like,” HSU Associate Vice President of Student Success Steven St. Onge said.

St. Onge, who oversees the Children’s Center, said the design phase of the new building will explore increased space, updated playgrounds, manipulative toys, dynamic crawling textures and additional infant care. The education program will not change, but the physical space will be improved.

The staff responsible for the design held a recent meeting to develop ideas for the ideal facility. Staff will meet again later this semester to draft blueprints.

The Children’s Center Administration building is located above the Children’s Center. | Photo by Michael Weber

“I think we’re switching from the facility impacting the programto the program impacting the facility,” St. Onge said. “Which I think is a good step forward.”

The redesign is funded by an $8.6 million allocation to HSU from a statewide grant for California State Universities. Betty Wilson, Children’s Center Program Director said the facility is limited by its budget.

“We are constantly searching out new funding streams to help create better experiences,” Wilson said in an email.

The Children’s Center daycare and education programs are regularly funded by Associated Students (both state and federal grants) and the university itself. This one-time grant will allow for a new facility.

“There are 86 students in the Children’s Center, about 60% are children of HSU students. The rest are a combination of faculty, staff and community members’ children.”

Steven St. Onge

The current buildings that house the Children’s Center have reached maximum capacity for the number of children.

“Right now, we’re limited by what the facility can give us,” St. Onge said. “The room size dictates how many children can be in a room, as well as the staff ratio.”

The sign-up process for the programs begins with a wait list that prioritizes current HSU students.

“There are 86 students in the Children’s Center, about 60% are children of HSU students,” St. Onge said. “The rest are a combination of faculty, staff and community members’ children.”

Infant care is the most demanding service the Children’s Center provides because they require more attention than toddlers. St. Onge said the ratio of care for infants compared to toddlers is three to one.

“It’s harder to find someone who will watch infants,” St. Onge said. That’s probably the largest wait list in that particular room.”

Bikes are parked in one of the playgrounds of The Children’s Center on Sept. 9. The playground sports multiple textures for kids to walk on. | Photo by Michael Weber

According to St. Onge, the new facility will improve operational efficiency. Currently, there are five buildings housing five different age groups. Each building has its own space, equipment and toys for its respective age group. The new facility will consolidate these spaces, improving efficiency.

St. Onge said the design phase will be tied closely to the childcare and early education programs. The Children’s Center and St. Onge did not explicitly state ways the recent grant will benefit the children and parents of the program. St. Onge said the academic aspect of the Children’s Center will remain the same.

“I think it’s exciting for the younger kids that will experience that new facility,” St. Onge said.

One main function of the Children’s Center is to provide a place for students, faculty, staff and community members to drop their kids off when they are busy at school or work.

According to Humboldt State Now, a recent survey conducted by the Campus Center for Rural Policy found that childcare improves student retention rates and work environments. Wilson said that the Early Head Start Grant allows parents to spend more time on schoolwork.

A Harbert Roofing truck parked at the Humboldt State University Annex on Sept. 9, 2019. The Annex will be refurbished into a new Children’s Center. | Photo by Michael Weber

“Family Service Coordinator Amy Pires-Moore helped to fulfill annual goals which the families create,” Wilson said. “By doing this, she is able to create a secure emotional base for the families to be able to succeed academically as some of their daily concerns can be taken care of.”

The other main function of the Children’s Center is providing care and education to the children and student workers. They are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

The NAEYC website says, “The accreditation process provides a framework for self-study, external evaluation and improvement in the quality of teacher preparation programs.”

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