Cerritos College breaks ground on $6M child development center

NORWALK − With a crowd of administrators, teachers, parents and kids looking on, Cerritos College on Wednesday broke ground on a new $6.1 million Child Development Center that promises to offer nurturing educational programming in a state-of-the-art facility. "It's time for a new home for our children," declared Cerritos College President Dr. Linda Lacy before the groundbreaking. "We want to continue investing in our kids and the G.O. bond approved by the community is helping us do that. This is where the money is going."

Even Lacy acknowledged that a new center was long overdue at the college.

The  new complex, which will feature 9,000 sq.-ft. of child care space including playgrounds and classrooms, will replace the original Child Development Center that is currently housed inside a 1960s technology building.

College administrators promised that the new site, located north of the Facilities and Purchasing Complex on campus, will more than make up for lost time.

"We all know the saying, 'good things come to those who wait,'" said Sandy Marks, dean of health occupations. "Today, those words ring true. A new child development center has been on the to-do list for 16 years. Now it will become a reality."

The Child Development Center currently operates pre-school programming for children ages 2-5. The center is also a laboratory school for college students seeking a career in teaching. College students that are enrolled in child development courses complete practicum hours, field experience, observations and other course assignments at the center.

In addition to four classrooms, a kitchen and office space, the center will also include new furnishings, security cameras, electronic gates, complete fencing and an outdoor educational space with a moving water feature, climbing areas, tunnels, and an art studio.

"Environment is the third teacher so we challenged the architects and developers to find their inner child," Marks said. "All of have a responsibility to care for these children so we strived to create a safe, state-of-the-art laboratory of education."

Carmen Avalos, president of the Cerritos College board of trustees, praised teachers and parents for their roles in child development, hoping the center could become an extension to students' education.

"We couldn't do this without the support of the community," she said. "We believe in our kids and we want this center to continue fostering the growth we instill as parents."

The new facility is being paid for through the $350 million General Obligation Bond measure passed by voters in November 2012.