The Center for Child Development is now in its new home at the east end of Jardine Drive on the K-State campus.
The doors to the early care and education facility opened officially Nov. 29, after faculty and administrative staff moved in during the week of Nov. 22-26. The $3.5 million facility is 32,000 square feet, more than double the size of its former location in K-State's Jardine Apartment Complex.
The center serves the children of families from the K-State, Manhattan and Fort Riley communities. Children using the center also come from all over the world, as many of K-State's international student parents use the service.
K-State's new Center for Child Development was designed using current research on what is best for children and early childhood education teachers, said Debra Ring, executive director.
"A focus is on connecting the indoors and outdoors, with every classroom having a door directly out to their playground," Ring said. "Natural sunlight floods the building to eliminate -- or on cloudy days, reduce -- the use of fluorescent lighting."
The building also promotes the center's philosophy of parent partnerships and parent involvement, Ring said, by offering spaces created to welcome and foster communication and relationships. These special spaces include areas for staff and families to meet.
"Natural colors, fabrics and light give children a relaxed place to be," Ring said. "The building was designed to increase children's sense of wonder. Our philosophy is to bring nature in and take the curriculum outside. A wall of windows in each classroom looks out on beautiful nature-based outdoor play spaces, designed to connect children to the many wonders of nature and inspire them to be future stewards of our natural environments."
Security also is enhanced in the new facility.
"Only parents and staff are given a code which, when entered at the front door, gives access to the building," Ring said. "Security cameras are located throughout the building and on the playgrounds, with closed-circuit monitors in the main office. The facility has a direct link to campus police and a sophisticated intercom system."
The infant-toddler wing features a more residential feel with specially named communities. Each community -- the Pillsbury Crossing community, the Flint Hills community and the Konza Prairie community -- has an infant room, a toddler room and a room for 2- to 3-year olds.
"Our staffing provides continuity of care from infant through 3 years of age," Ring said. "In each community the teachers, children and parents will know each other, much like an extended family."
Ring said the new center encourages movement and supports comfort. Each classroom has an open area with vaulted ceilings for more action-oriented activities and movement between indoors and outdoors. The other half of each room has lowered ceilings for more structured and quiet activities.
"We substantially increased the number of infant and toddler spaces because of the huge need in the community for infant and toddler child care," said Cassie Brown, assistant director of the center. "We now have 200 children from ages 6 weeks to 5 years, and will soon be adding a before- and after-school program, as well as an exciting summer school-age camp program."