April 21, 2014  

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Southern Miss Gulf Coast Opens Center for Child Development in Pass Christian

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Southern Miss Gulf Coast Child Development Center in Pass Christian
The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast has opened the Gulf Coast Center for Child Development in Pass Christian to serve as a state-of-the-art learning facility and child care program for children age eight weeks through five years. (University Communications photo by Charmaine Schmermund)

The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast has opened the Gulf Coast Center for Child Development in Pass Christian to serve as a state-of-the-art learning facility and child care program for children age eight weeks through five years.

Primarily serving as a teaching and research facility for university faculty and students, the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Center for Child Development provides interactive experiences to students majoring in Child and Family Studies. For the community, the center serves as a full-day early care and education program for children on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“Southern Miss Gulf Coast has provided our students with a quality education for many years,” said Dr. Frances Lucas, vice president and campus executive officer at Southern Miss Gulf Coast. “We are very excited for the opportunity to enhance our resources by offering a unique learning environment to our students in the College of Education and Psychology.”

This is the second child development center operated by Southern Miss. The first center, located on the university’s Hattiesburg campus, is accredited by the National Academy for the Education of Young Children and features a five-star rating with the state’s quality rating and improvement system. Only seven other schools statewide have achieved five stars, the highest possible rating.

“Our goal for the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Center for Child Development is to become an exemplar model of child care and education for the children who attend, as well as our university students,” said program director Rose Jenkins. “We would like to assure our community, that through our strategic planning and implementation of this program, our number one priority will always be the well-being and safety of all children who attend our center.”

Constructed four years ago by the Pass Christian School District, the $1.5 million facility is located at 205 Leovy Avenue near Pass Christian Elementary School. The center, which accommodates up to 75 students, features 5 classrooms and an enclosed playground.

“We are excited about the wonderful opportunities that this partnership provides for our children and for the community,” said Beth John, superintendent of the Pass Christian School District. “Southern Miss has demonstrated that they share the Pass Christian School District's vision of commitment to excellence and we look forward to a long partnership.”

The center offers quality programming for children achieved through the initiation of developmentally effective activities and positive child guidance techniques. Jeff Leffler, executive director for the Gulf Coast Center for Child Development, says the center demonstrates a model classroom and features teachers who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The tuition rate for infants and toddlers is $615 per month and tuition for children attending pre-school is $525 per month. The center accepts the subsidized childcare assistance DECCD, or Division of Early Childhood Care and Development.

The Gulf Coast Center for Child Development, open Monday through Friday 6:45 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., operates year round and follows the university’s holiday schedule for closings. For more information, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast/child-development.