The study of child development has been an integral part of our history, from the original School of Household Economy to the College of Home Economics and continues through the programs of Human Development & Family Sciences in the School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences.


Dean Ava Milam establishes the Family Life Department, recognizing the need for students to understand as much as possible about family relationships and child development. In 1926 under the direction of Mrs. Prentiss, and based on a model from the Merrill Palmer School in Detroit, a child care laboratory is created through the opening of a Nursery School in Covell House. The program is recognized as the first laboratory nursery school west of the Mississippi.


The Federal Government provides funds through the Work Progress Administration (W.P.A.) to establish child care centers in deprived areas. Faculty member Kathryn Read (Baker) serves as a supervisor at one of the WPA child care centers in Oregon.


1940 marks the opening of the Orchard Street Nursery School which is designed by Mr. Sinnard faculty member in Architecture at Oregon State Agricultural College (OSAC). During the WWII years the Federal Government again funds child care centers for the purpose of encouraging women to work in the war industries. Oregon State College faculty member from the Family Life Department, Kathryn Read Baker, helps Corvallis establish child care in the Park Terrace house. At the close of the war federal funding is withdrawn and OSAC purchases the Park Terrace facility for a laboratory nursery school. Children are offered cod liver oil as part of the nutritional program of the center.


Child Development Center Director Kathryn Read Baker publishes The Nursery School (1950,Sanders Publishing; the 8th edition is later published by Holt Rinehart & Winston). This is considered the first text book for the education of nursery school teachers.

1970s & 1980s

Parent and toddler groups are convened as well as preschool for children ages 3 to 5 years. As they arrive at preschool, children are offered orange juice - a vote for Vitamin C. In 1987, the Oregon State University Child Development Center is awarded an Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten Program grant. Head Start eligible children begin attending preschool with peers from the community.


Park Terrace and Orchard Street Child Development Centers are closed as the current Child Development Center opens in the Mercedes Bates Family Study Center(corner of 26th & Orchard Streets on the OSU campus). The Child Development Center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten Program Expansion is achieved, providing bilingual English and Spanish services to an additional 16 children.


The Department of Human Development & Family Sciences and the College of Education's Teacher Education Program collaborate to implement the Double Degree in Early Childhood. HDFS 430 students teach in the Child Development Center and complete the Basic Work Sample in Demonstration of Teaching Effectiveness with the Prekindergarten Age Group. The Basic Work Sample fulfills one of two required Work Samples for Oregon Teacher's Standards & Practices Commission's initial teaching license in Early Childhood Education. To date we understand that ours is the only program in Oregon that provides student teaching and Work Sample completion in the prekindergarten setting. In keeping with our historical interest in children's nutrition and healthful living, the current program pays special attention to an iron-rich diet and sufficient physical activity.