FLORENCE – Francis Marion University will soon be ready to enroll students to attend the Gail and Terry Richardson Center for the Child now under construction.
The center offers child care services to the children of students, faculty, staff and community members ages six weeks to five years old.
Scheduled to open in August 2008, the center will also be a child development and evaluation clinic to train students, giving them firsthand experience in dealing with the nearly 112 small children it will serve. In addition, the center will serve as a state model for the dissemination of best practices in early childhood education.
Child Care Director Frances B. Roberts is encouraging members of the community to seek enrollment for their children.
“Brain research has shown that a critical time for healthy child development and achieving school readiness is from birth through age four,” Roberts said. “Parents who enroll their children can expect a state-of-the-art facility where their child's mental and physical health, social and emotional skills, language and cognition are nurtured and developed.”
FMU’s School of Education and the Department of Psychology will work jointly to improve the physical, academic, social, emotional and economic well-being of children and their families through the center. Students from the School of Education will receive training through observational labs at the center allowing them to pull back the curtain and monitor the learning behaviors of children. The center will also have a clinic to diagnose and treat children experiencing developmental delays.
“Francis Marion University offers a unique training, research and service opportunity to the Pee Dee and the state by providing a laboratory school to train students in early childhood education, psychology, nursing and other disciplines,” said Psychology Professor John R. Hester, who was named director of FMU’s Center for the Child in 2005.
The center will have a child-care wing of two infant rooms, two toddler rooms, two rooms for three- and four-year-olds, and two rooms for four- and five-year-olds; an office area for psychology and education faculty members; a central lobby and library that will function as a family waiting area; observation and assessment rooms; and an outdoor play area.
Construction on this 15,000-square-foot, one-story facility has begun on a site near the Pee Dee Education Center on the campus of FMU. The university has a long established partnership with the Pee Dee Education Center, a 30-year consortium of 19 school districts, working together to impact the educational careers of almost 70,000 children. In addition, the university intends to cooperate closely with South Carolina’s First Steps to School Readiness program at the state level to assist with their important efforts.
To learn more about enrollment, contact Roberts at (843) 661-1630.