Child Development Center remains community focused

Staff caring for children of VCU Health System employees during COVID-19 crisis

In a photo taken before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nakita Battle, an assistant teacher at the VCU Child Development Center, takes care of children in the center's outdoor play area.
In this photo taken before the pandemic started, assistant teacher Nakita Battle cares for children in the outdoor play area of the Child Development Center.

The mission of the VCU Child Development Center (CDC), which is affiliated with the VCU School of Education, is to provide high quality, developmentally appropriate care and education for the children of faculty, staff, and students as well as to serve as a model and resource to families, students and the community.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that the CDC staff is going above and beyond.

Thomas H. Beatty, Ed.D., director of the CDC, and Andrew P. Daire, Ph.D., dean of VCU SOE, have been in almost daily contact with VCU and VCU Health leadership, as well as state officials, regarding the growing child care crisis for frontline healthcare professionals, many of whom are having to choose between staying at home with their children or caring for patients.

Following recommendations from Governor Ralph Northam and Duke Storen, the state’s commissioner for social services, Beatty and Dare recently asked CDC families who are working remotely from home, to please keep their child(ren) at home and afford space for the center to serve the children of VCU Health System employees during this crisis.

Not only have parents responded, but the CDC staff has responded as well. Staying within the guidelines to reduce class sizes to eight with two teachers, the center is poised to serve nearly 48 children of VCU Health System professionals who are able to go to work and contribute to saving lives. In addition, Dr. Beatty and the CDC Team have ramped up precautionary screening and overall safety measures to ensure the safety of children and staff.

Our CDC staff is critical to the mission of the school and is committed to service ... I am honored to lead this team.

Beatty is extremely proud of his team’s commitment.

“Our CDC staff is critical to the mission of the school and is committed to service. All 14 of our staff members want to remain at the center to provide childcare services not only to our current students, but also to the children of healthcare workers whose childcare services abruptly ended when the coronavirus crisis caused area school divisions to close,” said Beatty.

“One staff member said that she would rather be at the CDC taking care of the children of healthcare workers as opposed to sitting at home. Another one said that because she is on the CDC team, she wants to be at the CDC with her team. I know that several of them are frightened, but they've pushed past their fear because they know that they will be making a difference. I am honored to lead this team,” said Beatty.

Daire said that “proud” doesn’t begin to explain how he feels about center staff.

“I don't think it’s a stretch to say that they’re contributing to saving lives in our community. Not only are they emulating their center's mission, they are reflecting SOE's broader mission, vision and values,” Daire said.

He added that the center’s work aligns with one of SOE’s values of being community-focused, by building intentional relationships with the surrounding community and engaging in actions that focus on the needs of its people.

“In this time of uncertainty and bad news, I ask all of the school's leaders to share examples of units and individuals like the CDC, who are going above and beyond so we can have more of these ‘Mission, Vision and Values Moments’,” Daire said.