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State lauds Merced College infant, toddler program
Center serves as lab for best practices in child development
merced college pic
Ten-month-old Atticus Romero gets his face washed off after a messy lunch at the Merced College Child Development Center. Romero receives constant small-group or one-on-one attention from teachers and student assistants. The Merced College CDC is one of the only child development labs in the Valley. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

Last year Modesto Junior College cut its entire child development center for students with children. At the same time Merced College expanded its program to receive students as well as non-students.

The Merced College Child Development Center is now the only free or reduced cost option available for junior college students in the Valley from Stockton to Fresno. The Merced College CDC offers care for children of students from ages three months up to five years old, or the year before kindergarten.

Last week the program was recognized by the California Department of Education as the newest Infant and Toddler Care Demonstration Program. According to CDE’s Child Development Division, Merced College was chosen as the fifth demonstration program in the state and it was selected because of its strong collaborations with community stakeholders and its established success as a laboratory school.

“This CDC is vitally important for our community because it serves to educate parents and give them opportunities. We also care for the health of children and we are one of the few infant and toddler laboratories for child development in the Valley,” said Merced College Vice-President of Instruction Marianne Tortorici.

Demonstration sites like Merced College can be used by policymakers to observe the best practices in child development. They are the focal point and essential to workforce development, said the CDE.

“For the children, it gives them the opportunity to receive foundations in emotional and cognitive development,” said Lisa Duerr of the CDE’s Child Development Division.

At the Merced College CDC, the program is based in small group and individualized primary care practices, including the inclusion of children with special needs.

“These policies are a perfect fit for our relationship-based philosophy and meeting individualized needs,” said Infant/Toddler Lead Teacher Brandi Snider.

CDC Director Marilyn Scorby called demonstration designation a “win-win” for the community and the college.

For more information on the Merced College Child Development Center visit