University Park,
09:01 AM

Space available in Family Development Center programs

CD Collaboration Fall 2022 IT

It is the hope of the faculty and staff of the Family Development Center (FDC) that everyone had a joyous holiday season, a happy new year, and are excited about their return to a new semester.

The exterior of the unusual-looking concrete building on the Governors State University campus does not do justice to the sunlit, bright, and cheerful classrooms and spaces that make up GSU’s Family Development Center. The FDC is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and has three main programs, Early Head Start, Preschool For All and after school childcare, offering much needed quality care and services to the greater GSU community. Space is available for all programs.

Early Head Start (EHS) is a federally funded program for pregnant women, children under age three, and children with disabilities. In addition to on-site care, the Center also provides a home visiting program and services to pregnant women. According to Erin Soto, Executive Director of the FDC, “we provide parents with the education that allows them to be their child’s best first teacher.”

Shamika Jefferson is part of the Early Head Start home visiting program. “I walked into the doors literally a day after I found out I was pregnant with my second child. They gave me as many resources as they could to help me at that time and I followed through with the meetings through my pregnancy.” Now a mom of two and a student herself, Jefferson says, “It makes me feel great that my family is supported by GSU.”

Preschool For All is an educational program serving children three to five years old with funding by a grant from the Illinois State Board of Education. “All of our grant funded educational programs use a research-based curriculum that follows state, federal, and accreditation standards,” explains Soto.

In addition to students from GSU’s surrounding external communities, the FDC provides day care for GSU students and employees. “I am so blessed to have access to high quality and convenient day care right on campus,” says Lauren Healy, a GSU Development Officer. “And as a new mother, it was a balm to my soul to be able to nurse them during the workday. With any other childcare center, I would have been away from them for nine to ten hours a day.” GSU also offers grants to students to help cover the cost of childcare at the FDC. Information can be found at

After school care is also offered to children up to age eight.

The Center has a current enrollment of 121 children who reflect the demographics of the surrounding communities. About 86% are members of a minority group, and 73% have single parents.

Space is available for all FDC programs and information can be found at Or call 708-235-7347 for more information or to make an appointment.

Successful community and GSU partnerships have resulted in additional services to the Center’s families such as: free developmental and social emotional screenings to families of children under age five (partnership with Will County Child and Family Connections); mobile dental services (partnership with The Heart that Smiles); and supplemental speech services (provided by GSU’s Communication Disorders personnel).

The Family Development Center offerings don’t stop there. Ongoing programs include the following:

·       Conscious Discipline Parent Education Training – monthly trainings a social emotional parenting curriculum, which is trauma based.

·       Annual Father Engagement Activities

·       Policy Council Meetings – a group of Head Start parents and community members who meet to help lead and make decisions about the FDC program

·       Health Advisory Committee – a group of local health providers who meeting to support the children’s health development

·       Pop Up Sessions – provided by GSU’s College of Health and Human Services personnel, topics have included Literacy at Home and Flu and RSV Facts

·       Annual summer camp for children up to age eight