The Office of Human Resources at Penn State offers two on-campus day care centers for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years. These centers operate on the belief that children learn primarily through play and exploration of their environment while engaged in relationships with peers and responsive adults; therefore, the curricula are driven by the children's interests.
Both centers offer classrooms with mixed-age groupings in which children learn from each other as well as from the setting itself. Large outdoor play areas extend the learning environment, and beyond the centers' gates lies the beautiful Penn State campus and surrounding town, which offer wonderful opportunities for walks and excursions.
Both centers are staffed by full-time teachers who are highly skilled and trained in fields such as human development and family studies, early childhood education, elementary education, and special education. The teachers are brought together by a shared love and commitment to providing the best care and education for children and their families.
The Child Development Laboratory (CDL) was established at Penn State in 1929 as a part-day nursery school. In 1979, it became a full-day, full-year program and, in 1996, an infant and toddler classroom was added. The CDL closed in July 2011 and reopened at a new location on the corner of Park Avenue and Allen Road as the Child Care Center at Hort Woods. The LEED-certified building includes 10 classrooms for infants and toddlers, five classrooms for pre-school children, shared and common space, large outdoor and indoor play areas, a library, outdoor patios, as well as teacher workrooms, a kitchen, laundry, administrative offices and service spaces. The program serves 170 children from 6 weeks to 6 years of age.
In February 2001, the Bennett Family Center (BFC) opened its doors. The BFC was made possible through a generous donation from Edna Bennett Pierce ’53. Like the CDL, the BFC operates full-day and full-year. The program serves 120 children from 6 weeks to 6 years of age as well as an Arts-Integrated Kindergarten class.
Both centers are accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
As part of Penn State, the Bennett Family Center and the Child Care Center at Hort Woods are partners in the advancement of knowledge and understanding of early childhood education and child development. The centers have a three-part mission, which is to support service and outreach, teaching, and research.