Founded in 1979 by the Sisters of Charity, Mount St. Joseph University’s Children’s Center has been a beneficial service to the Mount community. It was established when the Sisters saw young mothers who wanted to pursue a college education couldn’t afford childcare. Sister Redempta Wittberg was appointed as the first director. Since its founding, the Center has been relocated several times across campus but eventually found a permanent home when the Harrington Center was built.
This year, the Center celebrates a five-star rating for a second year in a row. The rating is awarded by Step Up To Quality, a quality rating and improvement system administered by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Receiving a five-star rating means the Center has met and exceeded numerous requirements that are based on national research identifying standards which lead to improved outcomes for children. Janet Baltzersen, the current coordinator of the Children’s Center, says the Center provides purposeful and intentional lesson plans for every classroom (even the infants), developmental screenings and assessments, a stimulating environment, and more. The staff also receive on-going professional development training to provide the children with the best possible care.
But that is not all. According to Baltzersen, “We also take just as much care of the student parents as we do the children….It’s our job to help them any way we can, whether it be by offering study time, informing them of the services the Wellness Center provides if they need it, or just listening to them and letting them vent.”
For Baltzersen and the staff of the Children’s Center, their greatest joy is the children themselves. “I know it sounds obvious,” Baltzersen says, “but we never tire of how cute, funny, insightful, innocent, and so full of energy and life [the children] are. They delight in the simplest pleasures, which in turn helps us to appreciate the small things.”
The children themselves have a lot to say about the Center, too. Five-year-old Harper Hiltz says, “We get to play in a canoe outside in the playground. I like to listen to the teachers at lunch time. They tell funny stories and make me laugh.” And four-year-old Zeke Hopkins says, “I like to draw with chalk outside, and we got to eat an ocean! It was a bagel with blue cream cheese and fish crackers.”
To learn more about the Children’s Center and its services, visit their webpage.