Working parents with children, in the JCCC community, know that quality childcare, for their pre-schoolers, is right at the top of the list when it comes to making parents and children feel secure during their week. What parents may not know is that the Hiersteiner Child Development Center is located on the Johnson County Community College campus. It is open to providing care for children of JCCC students, employees, and the greater Johnson County Community College area.
Toddlers, 1 -2 ½ years, that enroll at the Hiersteiner Development Center will enjoy the classrooms Hideaway Woods, Bug Garden, and Big Backyard.
Young preschoolers, 2 ½ – 4 years, are invited to join the Bamboo Forest and African Kingdom classrooms.
Preschoolers, 3½ – 6 years, are welcomed into the Blue Lagoon and the Rainforest classrooms.
When children come to Hiersteiner, while inside, the outside is always on display in living color, during each season of the year, with the changes in the weather.
Windows, where the sun streams light into the classrooms are prevalent at Hiersteiner. The only thing that shines brighter is the smiles of the children and staff as they go about their daily activities.
Hiersteiner was created to encourage JCCC students to reach their educational ambitions and to provide assistance to the JCCC professional teaching faculty and staff personnel. The center is licensed to care for children who are walking, age 1, through the age of 6 years by September 1 of each year. Hiersteiner provides childhood education and childcare for both part-time and full-time schedules.
What began in January 1979, as a way to serve the students at JCCC, started out with 18 children at what was then known as the Child Play Center. Enrollment increased and childcare became necessary for a more diverse population. The state of Kansas has licensed Hiersteiner to care for 118 children.
“HCDC is licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and accredited by both the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), and the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation,” according to the JCCC website.
Every member of their staff is required to receive a minimum of 16 hours of continuing education or in-service training each year. In order for a teacher to be hired by Hiersteiner, they must have experience working with young children and show a sincere desire to care for children.
Hiersteiner’s main mission is providing childcare; however, it also provides college students with life and school experiences working in classrooms. JCCC offers an Early Education Associate of Science Degree Program. Students are supervised by Classroom Supervisors or Lead Teachers at the Center and are not left by themselves with children.
The Child Development Center not only provides high-quality early childhood education, but also focuses on nurturing self-esteem and supporting the development and skills of each child physically, socially, emotionally, creatively, and cognitively, through the whole Hiersteiner team that serves them daily. Respect, kindness, and acceptance are emphasized to surround the children with a comfortable, secure, environment until they are picked up each day.
Financial Aid is available for JCCC students. The JCCC Child Care Access Fund Scholarship is a scholarship that is available to JCCC students at the beginning of the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters annually. It can pay from 75% to 95% of the costs for childcare.
In addition, there is a Child Care Assistance Grant, open to all students and staff, awarded to JCCC students at the beginning of the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters each year.
Courtney Hultgren, Director of the Center, summarized the mission of the Hiersteiner Child Development Center by saying, “While Hiersteiner may look like a little schoolhouse from the outside, we are jam-packed with love and learning. Only 31 centers in the state of Kansas, out of 800+ licensed centers, are Nationally accredited by NAEYC.”
Hultgren added that the HCDC accepts funding from the Department of Children and Families. All families are eligible for this funding through the State of Kansas, which is based on specific income requirements.
Hiersteiner has been accredited since 1993 and continues to improve the quality of Early Childhood Education each and every day, “Our staff are passionate about educating young children and their families; providing free books, training sessions, and helping to come along side parents as we teach children through play each day.”
More information about the Hiersteiner Child Development Center can be found on the HDCD webpage or call (913) 469-4438.
Sherry Osborn, staff reporter