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School of Child and Family Sciences

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USM Center for Child Development

For 94 years, the Center for Child Development (CCD) at The University of Southern Mississippi has provided quality services to children while serving as an academic teaching and research facility for University students and faculty. The CCD has educated thousands of children, trained hundreds of students and impacted countless families across South Mississippi and throughout the University community.

Historically, students in the Child and Family Sciences (Child Development) program were required to complete field experiences at the on-site center, which served as a laboratory school. With the surge in online enrollment in 2016, the program was modified to offer flexible training opportunities in the cities where students lived and worked. This change in delivery method from in-person to online positively impacted the student experience and allowed the program to educate a larger number of preschool teachers across the state and region. With this change in delivery method, however, the number of in-person students also changed, and the number of student teachers who needed to complete field experiences at the CCD became less and less.

In December 2023, the CCD announced modified hours and a transition to serving children ages two to five. These changes were made in response to ongoing staffing challenges associated with operations of a fully-accredited lab school, and while they do offer some short-term solutions, we must acknowledge the future reality of the CCD.

Operations Update (April 2024):

The CCD will no longer be accepting new children and will not pursue re-accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). While we are saddened by this difficult decision, the staff of the CCD remains committed to the children currently enrolled and will continue to provide a safe and nurturing educational experience while preparing Southern Miss students to be excellent early childhood educators.

Dr. Pat Sims, Director for the School of Child and Family Sciences, hosted an informational parent meeting on Monday April 8, from 12 - 1 p.m.

Director Zkela Varnado

3400 Morningside Drive
Hattiesburg, MS 39401

Hours of Operation 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday
Phone Number (601)266-5294
Fax Number



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School of Child and Family Sciences

219 Joseph Greene Hall (JGH) 
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

Hattiesburg Campus

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