2023 has become an especially noteworthy year for the CSUDH Child Development Center. Run by Associated Students, Inc., the center has long been a trusted child care provider for students, employees, and the surrounding community. This year, in addition to its 50th anniversary, the center is celebrating a new accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
The Child Development Center (CDC) has played an integral role at CSUDH since its inception in 1973, when it was established to provide affordable, accessible child care to student-parents and employees. The center continues that mission today under the leadership of Program Director Candace Manansala, who joined the center in early 2022.
Manansala’s first order of business as director was to merge the CDC with the Infant Toddler Development Center, a separate learning lab and child care center run by Toro Auxiliary Partners.
“It made the most sense to have both of these centers combined under one licensing agreement,” Manansala said. “Also, the CDC was still trying to recover from low enrollment due to COVID-19. When I started, we only had eight preschoolers enrolled.”
After successfully merging the programs, Manansala says she was “extremely determined” to get the CDC accredited and burnish its reputation as a child care program of choice. The NAEYC accreditation process uses ten criteria to evaluate child care centers, including curriculum, positive relationships, nutrition and health, and qualified teaching staff.
“You need to prove a reputation of credibility that you’re reaching the goals of developmentally appropriate practices,” Manansala says. “The staff was so hungry to do this and prove that we are providing the highest quality of care.”
To maintain accreditation, the CDC must continue to meet NAYEC standards and policies over the next five years. Manansala is already envisioning all the ways in which she can continue to grow the center, including developing more partnerships both on and off campus. The center already partners with the L.A. Galaxy for physical development and the local Carson library for reading, as well as CSUDH departments like music and occupational therapy.
“We have so many opportunities and talent right here on campus,” Manansala says. “I want the CDC to be a child development magnet so that we can build these kids up to be future leaders.”
Manansala also hopes to create additional site space, as the program is now at full capacity with 65 children enrolled. About 75 percent of the children are from CSUDH student-parents, 15 percent are children of employees, and 10 percent are from the local community. The waiting list has grown exponentially over the last 18 months, with more than 300 families in line for a spot.
“I’d love to triple the amount of kids we serve, space permitting,” Manansala says. “We have a vision of what this place should be for kids, for the campus, and for the surrounding community.
“The word has gotten out that this is an amazing place that brings out the best in kids. We are so excited to continue growing.”