Front of the Richardson CenterThis 15,000 square-foot facility is located on a site near the Pee Dee Education Center on the campus of Francis Marion University.  The $3.5 million building includes a child-care wing of two infant rooms, two toddler rooms, two rooms for the three- and four-year-olds, and two rooms for four- and five-year-olds; an office area for psychology and education faculty members; a central lobby and library that functions as a family waiting area; observation and assessment rooms; and an outdoor play area.

Having opened its doors in August of 2008, the children and the Center are growing together, offering a class for each age group including infants, toddlers, twos, threes and fours.

Please contact the Center from 7-6 Monday through Friday to check for available spaces.  Applications for admission are available at the Center during operating hours and may be submitted at any time.  A registration fee is necessary to be considered for open positions.

The First Steps (Pre4K) program is offered on a first come first serve basis.


Recent research has shown that from the crib to the classroom, healthy child development and achieving school readiness require nurturing children’s mental and physical health, social and emotional skills, language,and cognition.  Within the university community, the talents, skills, and knowledge of faculty in the Psychology Department and the School of Education along with other departments such as Nursing, will be available to the center, working jointly to improve lives.  Through university classes, students will also get firsthand experience in working with the nearly one hundred young children the center will serve.

Another integral part of this undertaking is child-care service for children of students, faculty, staff, and community members.  Therefore, the center will have a joint mission to develop and disseminate best practices for working with children and to provide quality, direct services for children.

The functions of the Center for the Child reflect the mission to improve the condition and educational and economic potential of the children in our state, and will:

  • Identify and disseminate best practices for optimizing early childhood development;
  • Conduct and support research by faculty, scholars, and visiting professors to develop strategies of optimizing early childhood development, as well as to assist schools, agencies, and communities in conducting research, needs assessments, and program evaluations;
  • Train professionals and paraprofessionals in evaluation, prevention, and early intervention through continuing education, workshops, conferences, distance delivery, and formal post-secondary experiences;
  • Assist schools, agencies, and communities throughout the state with implementing best practices for early childhood services;
  • Develop a database related to early childhood issues to assist decision markers in developing public policy related to the critical needs of children in the state;
  • Provide state-of-the-art child care designed to develop and enhance literacy skills through developmentally appropriate practices and to enhance social and emotional development;
  • Establish a child development clinic, the functions of which will include evaluation, intervention, prevention, and family services.