This November, the Brown/Fox Point Early Childhood Education Center celebrated its 50th anniversary as a resource for Fox Point and University-affiliated families with young children.
The center, located on Hope Street, provides a preschool program for children of families that live, work or study at Brown or in the Fox Point community, according to its website. Last month, community members celebrated the five-decade milestone with a party at Roger Williams Park Casino.
The daycare center was born in part out of activism by Women of Brown United, a group that advocated for equity and visibility for women students, scholars and staff on campus, according to a 1975 Herald article.
Donald Hornig, the University’s president at the time, commissioned a feasibility study in 1971 that found that a daycare facility for University-affiliated families would be “an expensive but useful enterprise,” according to the article. The center was then constructed and opened in 1973.
According to Marlene Roberti, who started as the center’s executive director this August, a typical day for children at the center includes indoor activities in the center’s playroom, reading and making art. The children also spend ample time in the center’s attached outdoor playground, Roberti said, often before returning for a rest period in the afternoon where they can sleep or practice a quiet activity.
Breakfast, lunch and a snack are provided to children as part of tuition, she added, which is currently $1,575 per month without financial assistance.
The center prioritizes admitting University-affiliated, LGBTQ+ and low-income families who may require financial aid, Roberti said. The center dedicates approximately $100,000 per year to providing financial aid to qualifying families, she added.
“It provides an easily accessible resource to Brown families … who might not live on the East Side but are coming to Brown for work (and) can easily drop their children off on their way,” Roberti said.
Wendy Wallace, director of civic engagement at the University, highlighted the longstanding relationship between the daycare center and Brown. According to Wallace, the University donated the building, which used to be a chemistry lab, to the center. The University also pays its rent and utilities, meaning the center is only responsible for covering cleaning fees.
“Because the building was awarded free of charge, the center can provide extra staff in the classroom,” Wallace said. “So there’s one teacher for every six kids, whereas the standard is nine kids,” she explained, referring to the required staff-child ratio in Rhode Island for three-year-olds.
Approximately 50% to 60% of families whose children attend the program are affiliated with the University, according to Wallace.
Though the center began as a joint venture between the University and the Fox Point Neighborhood Association, it was later incorporated as an independent non-profit in 1979, according to a 1981 Herald article.
The center also offers an opportunity for Brown students to support staff in caring for children.
Stella Chukwulozie ’25, who started volunteering at the center during spring 2023, has helped with tasks such as attending to upset children, cleaning the tables after a meal or helping children fall asleep during the rest period.
Chukwulozie said her experience at the center helped solidify her future career aspirations. “I was able to confirm that I do love kids and would feel so lucky to work with kids professionally,” she said. She plans to be a psychiatrist and hopes to volunteer at the center again in the future.
Lauren Leslie, a program and outreach coordinator in the East Asian Studies department whose children currently attend the center, said she first learned about the center through a combination of Google searches and resources shared by the University administration.
“The quality of teachers, the care they provide for students and (the) general attention to each individual student and their growth makes them a world-class institution, from my experience,” Leslie said.