Over 200 celebrate 40 years of SRHS Child Development
While the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System staff is caring for patients, their children are being given the same top-notch care at the SRHS Ida Thompson Child Development Center. This weekend, the Child Development Center celebrated 40 years of high-quality child care.
“We wanted to celebrate 40 years with the children and parents we have helped care for over the years, along with the care providers,” Linda Lawson, Program Manager of the SRHS child care program said. “We could not have grown and improved without their continued support. Parents constantly tell us how much their child is learning from our teachers. Our teachers are attentive and genuinely love the children.”
The Child Development Center opened with approximately 60 children, varying from ages three months to 12 years, and a staff of 14 people on Oct. 1, 1974. However, the idea of the center was born in 1971. Questionnaires were distributed to all SRHS employees and students in the hospital to gauge the potential utilization of the child care center. The results revealed 50 families were interested in using the services.
Though the interest was there, the funds could not initially be found to implement a child care center. The first survey started the ball rolling. Again in 1973, a questionnaire was presented to SRHS regional staff. The second survey showed 80 families were interested in a child care facility for approximately 100 children and another 60 respondents indicated they might use the facility providing it provided high-quality care.
The administration of the hospital felt that a child care center would help elevate the shortage of workers in critical areas such as nursing. The administration also felt that turnover and absenteeism could be reduced significantly through the provision of child care services.
The mission of the Child Development Center was to meet the child care needs of employees and to provide a model of superior child care for the Appalachian Region, including the State of South Carolina.
It was also important that the center operate for extended hours, holidays and during inclement weather. With the vision of Spartanburg General Hospital President Charles Boone and the funding of a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Child Development Center became a reality and opened October 1974.
In 1979, enrollment expanded to increase the children three months to two years of age; accommodating 48 infants and toddlers. The expansion location was in a small building that was beside the Spartanburg Hospital for Restorative Care, formerly the Doctor’s Memorial Hospital. This move doubled the previous enrollment, and the Infant-Toddler Program moved in 1981 to the East Annex basement. In 1983, all of the Child Development Center programs were reunited in the same building. By this time, the staff had increased to approximately 27 employees.
The Child Development Center has even gained national attention. In 1988, the Child Development Center was awarded the Best on the Block Award. This honor recognized the CDC as one of the top 24 employer-sponsored child care facilities in the nation. Congressional Representative Liz Patterson made the presentation to founding director, Patricia Hollon. In 1997, center was even visited by Former First Lady Barbara Bush, who took time to tour the facility and read to the children. Mrs. Bush praised the CDC for the example they provide to the field of early childhood education.
The Child Development Center also received accreditation in 2001 from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). NAEYC is the nation’s largest organization of early childhood educators. They administer the largest and most widely recognized national, voluntary, professionally sponsored accreditation system.
“We are proud to say that we have continued to maintain our accreditation,” Lawson said. “The accreditation allows us to grow and continuously improve. It also reassures the community that we are a high quality facility.”
To celebrate years of accomplishments, SRHS invited parents, staff, teachers and children to the 40th anniversary of the development center on Saturday. Now, the center has an average yearly enrollment of 350 and daily attendance of nearly 200 children, and 57 staff members. Each day the center serves children varying in ages from 12 weeks to 12 years old.
The center currently operates five school buses which pick children up at approximately 15 area schools as well as providing transportation to field trips. It also is a tool for continuous training and learning for area high schools and colleges for future teachers.
The Child Development Center is located in the Pinewood Resource Center on 1001 N. Pine Street and is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.