Children's Center celebrates 25 years of family ties

Feb. 28, 2012

Children's Center celebrates 25 years of family ties

Linda A Lucchetti,, 925-422-5815
Since September 1986, employees have had peace of mind in fulfilling their work obligations while knowing their young children were safe, nearby, well cared for and nurtured by a quality staff.

That's when the Children's Center under the auspices of LLESA (Livermore Laboratory Employee Services Association) opened its doors to LLNL, Sandia, contract and LLESA members who pay for the childcare services provided.

Starting out with 60 children and 10 employees, the center has grown and currently provides care for 100 children and a staff of 25.

Last week, Laboratory Director Parney Albright and Deputy Director Tom Gioconda toured classrooms and visited children and teachers at the Children's Center.

"This is really great," Albright commented. "It is important to the Laboratory that we have something like this."

Laura Reno has been the director of the Children's Center since its inception. Along with some changes, she has noticed many consistencies during its lifespan.

"We have remained true to our mission that was first set forth by employees who wanted something they could not find outside -- a hands-on, play-based program with low teacher-child ratios, small class sizes and experienced teachers," Reno said.

Today, a Parent Advisory Council continues to be a vital element, meeting with staff monthly to give parent input and helping to strengthen ongoing partnerships with families.

In 1997, an infant care component was added to the Children's Center, with care for babies starting at six weeks old. The addition of this program rounded out the options available to working families, allowing seamless child care opportunities for children from birth through elementary school age.

One thing that has not dwindled through the years Reno said, is the family atmosphere, which has blossomed. "It first started as a small operation providing a service and has grown into a tight knit supportive family. Although the enrollment has gone up, it still feels likes like a small family. We are big on relationships here," she said.

Another feature of the Children's Center is a partnership with Las Positas College for the past 24 years, providing student teacher practicum opportunities through the early childhood education program.

Through the years, children who were cared for at the center have come and gone, and grown up. "We start with babies who have grown up to pre-school and then school age," she said, adding that the school age program flourishes during the summer months.

"They still keep in touch -- we receive high school graduation and marriage announcements. They stop by to say hello. In fact, some have gone on to college and have been hired at the Lab as well as here at the Children's Center.

"It is exciting to keep tabs on them," Reno said.