The Center for Children and Families (CCF) is celebrating its first anniversary on Sept. 4.  The center opened amidst much fanfare last year with 23 children and four staff members.  One year later, 135 children are enrolled and 30 staff work in 10 classrooms.

What has led to the dramatic increase? Director Francesca Gallozzi explains, “We have created a community of families and teachers who really care about the program at the center.  The program and the facility create a learning environment that is unmatched. Many of our families—including the CSUSM families—have been referred to us by a satisfied parent. The word-of-mouth has been terrific!”

Over the last year there have been a number of highlights which reflect CCF’s growing presence on campus.  Last Halloween, CCF children toured both University Village Apartments and University Police Department (UPD) in their costumes, a tradition that is expected to continue this year. 

A number of faculty members gave donations of time and materials. Dr.Maureen Fitzpatrick and her husband donated the “Kids’ Kitchen,” out of which tantalizing muffins and healthy smoothies have emerged. This child-sized kitchen invites the young chefs to mix, blend, and roll ingredients, extending their science, math, and even culinary skills. Former CoE Associate Dean Peggy Kelly celebrated her birthday by inviting friends and colleagues to donate funds to the CCF library.  Inspired by Peggy, Professor Toni Hood donated 100 children’s books from her personal collection to the CCF library.

Most recently, UPD Corporal Angela Fanucchi proposed that UPD partner with CCF to raise awareness of children’s safety issues through a National Night Out event planned for August.  The event, held August 5, was both informative and fun for the CCF families and UPD staff who attended.

CCF has also benefited from the generosity of the community.  Genentech, a local biotech company and a long-time supporter of CSUSM projects, donated $10,000 to the center.  These funds will provide for the purchase of instruments and the development of a music program.  The Genentech funds also supported the CCF “Seed to Table” initiative through which children grow their own flowers and vegetables. Preschoolers were recently seen slicing up their own center-grown cucumbers for afternoon snack!

There are many opportunities for the university to become involved in developing the program at the Center, and for CCF to support students’ learning at CSUSM. CCF is already a placement site for service learning students and sociology interns, and has welcomed psychology, literacy, and nursing students to do observations through the many one-way windows.  A student-teaching cohort from the credential program has made CCF its home base for the fall semester.

This year, two new programs have been initiated at CCF.  The first of these, Celebrity Readers, will have university faculty and staff reading their favorite books to children at the center.  The first honored guest will be CSUSM President Karen Haynes. Other readers include University Police Chief Hackenberg and Dr. Janet Powell. 

Another program, Cougars to Cubs, will encourage professors, staff, and students to share their talents and time with children at the center.  Musicians, artists, scientists, and coaches are invited to do brief in-house field trips for children at the center by performing an instrument, demonstrating an experiment, or leading a sports game.

For more information or to participate, contact Francesca at ext. 8755 or email fgallozz@csusm.edu.

“We have created a community of families and teachers who really care about the program at the center."

Francesca Gallozzi
Director, CCF