Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Center for Young Children to celebrate 70 years of taking care of Kingsville's youth

Marc Cisneros Center for Young Children, 1113 W. Santa Gertrudis - 10/08/11 - 10/08/11

Contact: Julie Navejar
julie.navejar@tamuk.edu or 361-593-2590

The children come and go as does the staff, but the Marc Cisneros Center for Young Children at Texas A&M University-Kingsville has been an integral part of the lives of countless children in Kingsville for 70 years. They will celebrate that accomplishment with a Family Fiesta 70th anniversary party and open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. The center is located on the university campus at 1113 W. Santa Gertrudis.

Lisa Turcotte, director of the center, said the open house and tours will be given from 11 a.m. until noon, when a short ceremony will begin. 

The Center for Young Children has over 5,000 square feet proving room for 40 preschoolers, 12 toddlers and eight infants in the new center.  

The center helps not only students who use the classes for observation in their college courses, but it also helps the community by providing quality child care for working parents.

Students from various human sciences courses use the Center for Young Children for observations. Other classes including early childhood education, elementary education, kinesiology, sociology and communications disorders also use the center for observational research.

Four observation rooms with one-way glass allow private observation for each age group. The rooms have access for the students away from the young children, so researchers can observe their behavior.

The Center for Young Children is one of the state’s oldest continuously operated day care centers. The nursery school has a long history at Texas A&M-Kingsville. Aline McKenzie, chair of the home economics department, and Professor Johnnie Mae Haun began planning the center in the summer of 1938 and continued through 1940. They opened the doors in 1941.

It was first housed in the renovated football players’ dressing room at the southeast corner of Lantana and Avenue B. Its mission then, as it is today, is to serve as a learning laboratory for university students to provide observation and hands-on experience in the areas of child growth and development.

In 1957, the center moved into a small wood frame house that was donated to the university by Dr. Frank H. Dotterweich, dean of the College of Engineering. The house was adjacent to another lot purchased by the university in 1948 from J.C. and Opal Cross. Together, these properties represent the present location and the future site of the new Center for Young Children.

The house was still being used as the nursery school until about 10 years ago.

Turcotte became the director in 1981 and in 1982, she obtained child care licensing from the Texas Department of Human Services, now the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. In 1985, Turcotte and her husband, Bud, leased the nursery school from the university. However, it returned to university ownership in 1988.

By providing open admission child care service to the public and university students, the center meets employment requirements of the Higher Education Act. The act allows the center to hire work-study students partially sponsored by federal education grants. 

In 1993, the center became a Four Star Designated Vendor under a program of the Child Care Management Service. In 1999, the facility received accreditation status from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.


This page was last updated on: October 30, 2012