COM and Head Start revive infant/toddler care center

College of Marin
Posted Feb. 1, 2010

Program will provide free care and serve as on-campus observation and training center for child care and child development students

NOVATO, Calif.—For Leticia, a 33-year-old College of Marin student, having a few hours of on-campus, free child care for her 2-1/2-year old each day means she will be able to begin nursing school in less than a year.

“I was taking one class at a time,” said Leticia whose child is participating in a week-old newly refurbished early child care center on the Indian Valley campus in Novato.

The new Infant/Toddler Child Care Center provides 16 fully-funded Head Start slots per hour for children up to age three and will serve dozens of low income parents each day. Until now, on-campus child care was only available to children aged three and older, which meant that a legion of parents have been putting their education on hold. For students like Leticia, who works part-time, the Early Head Start Center means she is suddenly moving toward her job goals much faster.

It also means that psychology, nursing and child development students will soon have access to on-campus observation and training programs involving infants and toddlers.

The new center exists in a facility that was shuttered several years ago for lack of funding. It was refurbished with Head Start funds made available through the American Resource and Recovery Act, a federal stimulus package that provides $12,000 each for 16 infant/toddler slots in addition to providing minor funds for updating and ongoing facility maintenance.

“This gives people a chance to move out of poverty and be able to have a good job that supports their families,” said Lyda Beardsley, director of Child Care Programs at COM.

The center, in the same building as a preschool center, abuts a large classroom that will eventually serve as a child care learning hub for College of Marin students. The college plans to install state-of-the-art observation windows for learning so students will be able to observe the full spectrum of early development from infant to pre-kindergartners on campus.

“By being there, we’re not only providing a quality service, but we’re providing a setting for new people in the field to learn quality practices,” said Kay Wernert, director of Marin Head Start and president of the California Head Start Association. “We’re so excited that this had a double edge.”

The Head Start Infant Toddler Center at the IVC Child Development Center is only the latest significant renovation to occur on the Novato campus.

The Novato site has seen a makeover with new buildings, programs and services aimed at workforce development and enrollment at IVC has jumped more than 100 percent in the last four years.

“We have always planned to have this,” said Nanda Schorske, dean of Workforce Development & College-Community Partnerships at College of Marin. “One of the most profound ways to effect early child development is by creating opportunities, hope and support in the lives of young parents who are able to communicate that same support, hope and excitement to their children. This investment in education is investing in the workforce 20 years from now and also in the workforce today. Child care has a huge economic impact. Four years ago we were looking at a map and today we’re looking at the real thing. It’s like a little heart beating in the middle of the campus now.”

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To apply for infant and toddler care, please call Marin Head Start at (415) 883-3791 or visit to download an application. Be sure to indicate on the application that you are applying for the “IVC Early Head Start Center.” Please mail your completed application to: Marin Head Start, 359 Bel Marin Keys Blvd, Suite 1, Novato, CA 94949.

Preschool care is available on both Kentfield and IVC campuses for children of COM students. Sliding scale fees are subsidized by the California Department of Education and the Marin Education Fund depending on family income and size. For more information or to download a Preliminary Application, go to: Please mail completed application to: College of Marin Children’s Centers, Indian Valley Campus, 1800 Ignacio Blvd., Novato, CA 94949.

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