After sitting unused for some fifteen years, the Southern University Child Development Laboratory is once again open for business. The Child Development Laboratory is a daycare focused on providing a location for student-parents (although the daycare is also open to the public) to bring their children while they attend classes. 

The building is a fully certified daycare center that also operates as a research center for child development studies. The Director of the Southern University Child Development Laboratory and Child Development and Family Life Professor, Dr. Keisha Dandridge-Caesar, states that “...[they] offer a research based curriculum [that has several departments] participating in our lab and conducting research.” With that being said however, the facility is a daycare first, and a research facility second.

The daycare is still required to follow certain guidelines as stated under Louisiana’s Child Care Guidelines Bulletin 137.  In order to work at the daycare, the staff must have certifications in Bloodborne Pathogens, Medication Administration Training, and Pediatric CPR training, as well as having passed a TB skin test, drug test, and pass a Federal and State Criminal Background check.

Boasting a large classroom, the daycare offers teaching to infants and toddlers, and to kids aged one to three. Diona Zachary, one of the teachers responsible for children aged two through three,  says that, “Everyday you know that they are learning something new...they get so much information at this age...they learn how to say their letters, they know their colors and they know their numbers...this carries them on through life.” Although, Imonie Rushing,  a 23-year-old Child Development major, notes that the biggest challenge in teaching is in “getting to know each child and learning how each one learns and what he/she responds best to.” To help facilitate this, the daycare also serves breakfast and lunch along with two snack times every day. 

The facility also has very strict policies on behavior and staff conduct. If a child is seen to be acting out in any way, like biting, hitting or bullying, steps are taken to correct the behavior that can range from mediation between parents to direct parent supervision for a time. The staff however goes to great lengths to ensure that the children have all the attention they need.  As for staff, there is a strict, zero-tolerance policy on abuse and any staff member who is found using physical harm on a child will be fired immediately, as the facility is meant to be a safe environment for children and, as such, every effort will be made so that every child is treated fairly. 

Enrollment applications are now being accepted for children to attend the daycare. The enrollment process starts with a $250 application fee and weekly fees ranging from $175 a week to $195 a week, depending on the age of the child. Completed applications must include the birth certificate of the child, social security card, proof of insurance, and up-to-date physical, immunization, and dental exams. The application fee is waived if a parent of the child is a Southern University student. 

In the future, there will be an evening service opened up for parents who attend night classes. For now though, the daycare is operating between the times of 6:30 am to 5:30 pm. All parents of the Southern University campus and the surrounding community are encouraged to apply. For more information, please contact Dr. Keisha Dandridge-Caesar at 225-771-3494 or via email at or by going directly to the daycare located on East St. directly across the street from Higgins Hall on Southern’s campus.

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