The Isla Vista Children’s Center moved just over a month ago from its location at 892 Camino del Sur and relocated to a permanent place just outside of Isla Vista.
The program, which has worked to meet the needs of low-income children in I.V. for the past 32 years, began operations Aug. 23 in their new location at 6842 Phelps Rd., just west of Fransico Torres Residence Hall. The IVCC now serves approximately 100 infants, toddlers and preschoolers in its daycare program, providing meals, rides from school and homework help for children from two to six years old.
The IVCC was founded as a co-op in 1971 in partnership with the United Methodist Church, and had been renting the space on Camino del Sur ever since. However, the IVCC has separated from its church partner to develop a more permanent location for the children’s center, necessitating the move from I.V.
Gina Morale, program director for the IVCC, said although the move has taken the Children’s Center out of I.V., it will ultimately prove more beneficial to the program.
“The problem was that we rented that space, so it wasn’t a permanent home for us. We’ve never had a home of our own for the children’s center,” she said.
The center is the state-licensed component of the Isla Vista Youth Projects, a private organization that attempts to compensate and reconcile the lack of youth services in and around the Isla Vista community. The youth projects also offer after school and summer recreation programs for older children at Isla Vista School.
Junior business economics major Hanan Awel said she has volunteered with the after-school program on numerous occasions.
“There are so many kids in I.V., but it really isn’t the best place to grow up,” she said. “A lot of these kids are coming from poorer families whose parents can’t be there to pick them up right after school.”
Morales said the youth projects play an important role in the lives of these children, the majority of which come from low-income families.
“We provide scholarships to about 70 percent of our kids; the rest are full paying students,” she said.
Although the youth projects receive 61 percent of their funding through government sources, the program is still heavily financially dependent on community support. The children’s center was able to move into their new home thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.
Morales said although the new location is further away, she does not think that will weaken community support.
“Now the challenge is that we used to be in the center of I.V., so now some parents will have to walk or take the bus,” she said. “The new location enables us to expand our outreach and our mission, but it does not change our mission.”
Children’s Center Program Coordinator Ana Flores said they are lucky to have such strong local support.
“We get a lot of volunteers from the school and there is a lot of community involvement,” she said. “Everyone is very supportive.”
Morales said despite the center’s move out of I.V. they will still be active participants in the community and will play a large role in Isla Vista’s up-and-coming community center.
Morales said all are welcome to attend the children’s center’s grand opening celebration Oct. 12 at 5:30 p.m.