Parent Support Center Opens at Garfield Campus

Cindy Garcia

The new Parent Support Center was officially inaugurated Nov. 16 at GCC’s Garfield Campus with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Members of the board of trustees, along with the architect of the center, Michael Rachlin, interim President Dawn Lindsay, contractor Stephen Olsen, and Karen Holden-Ferkich, associate vice president of continuing and community education, had the honor of cutting the red ribbon.

“I feel really proud [of] this beautiful place,” said Holden-Ferkich. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to be able to get an education and not have to worry about where their children are.”

Although it opened in late October, the center’s ribbon-cutting “came a little later because we wanted to have all the board [of trustee] members able to be here for the ribbon cutting,” said Holden-Ferkich.

The center’s new facilities are part of the first stage of the Garfield construction project, which is scheduled to be ready for the fall 2011 semester.

The new center is about 2,000 square feet and cost an estimated $141,000. It can hold up to 30 children, which is more than the 22 the previous center held.

The center originally opened in February 2002 next to the Garfield Campus. The old facility was a house that the college converted and equipped as the center.
The idea for the new center was unplanned. It originated when the Garfield Campus construction project was in need of more parking spaces.

“We had no plan for the center at all but we ended up with a new facility,” said Holden-Ferkich. “When they made the contract [for the Garfield construction project funded by Measure G], they included moving the center so we had more parking space.”

The backyard features a sand box, a grass area with eco-friendly sustainable plants and orange, tangerine and lemon trees.

The indoor space has a refrigerator, stove and washer/dryer machines. Staff of the center cook for the children and wash their clothes when necessary to make children feel as comfortable as if they were at home.

“Glendale Community College really puts children first,” said Teri Ismail, assistant director of the center. “They really thought carefully about how to make the yard work well, and they made indoor space inviting, warm and home-like as much as possible.”

In order for children to be part of the program, their parents must be registered students of the Garfield Campus. The children are allowed in the center only during the times their parents are on campus.

“If [students] leave our site their children must go with them,” said Holden-Ferkich. “We are not day care, we are here to support the parents and that’s why we called it the Parent Support Center.”

Children are able to participate in a broad variety of different activities, such as art, music, gymnastics and story telling. Material integrated into the pre-kindergarten program will help children learn the alphabet, numbers and colors.

“Our vision is to create a place of discovery and exploration,” said Ismail. “A place that invites and entices a child to use their imagination and grow through play.”

The center also offers children the opportunity to become bilingual and to start learning English, since many of the children at the center only speak their parents’ native language. The staff includes educational tools such as books and music to incorporate the children’s own cultures into the classroom.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn English and to learn to get along with different cultures,” said Holden-Ferkich.

“This is a children’s little paradise here at the Garfield Campus,” said Ismail.
The center offers free or low-cost child care for students. The free service is offered through CalWorks, a state welfare program that provides temporary financial aid for low-income students. The center’s operation hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.