Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Former Trinity Hospital to Become HSU's Children's Center

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 at 1:12 PM

click to enlarge Rendering of the west elevation of the Trinity Annex. - HSU
  • HSU
  • Rendering of the west elevation of the Trinity Annex.
Humboldt State University has announced plans to renovate the Trinity Annex —the former Trinity Hospital property adjacent to campus on 14th Street between B and C streets — to house the university's Children’s Center.

Once slated for demolition, the 1944 building will now undergo “extensive work,” which will help preserve the “aesthetic of the west, original building,” according to the university.

The project became possible after recently receiving a $8.6 million financial boost  in one-time funds allocated by the California State University System’s Office of the Chancellor from state budget monies, according to a release from HSU.

The project will breathe new life into the structure — which was a working hospital until 1972 — by bringing the Children Center’s operations together under one roof, with the possibility of the Child Development Laboratory also moving in at some point.

“Faculty and staff at Child Development Department and Child Development Lab are excited about this proposal,” Hyun-Kyung You, Child Development Lab program leader, says in a press release. “Overall, this potentially helps us continue our vision and mission and do even better what we have been proudly doing.”

Not only does the project “preserve that beautiful building to a degree” but it also opens the door to the creation of an enriching environment from a blank slate, says Steve St. Onge, HSU’s executive director of Housing and Residence Life, adding there are no plans for “expanding right now.”

He describes the annex’s renovation and consolidation of the childcare program into one location as a “win-win” for the community and the families served by the center.

“That give us the opportunity to continue to offer a really solid program,” St. Onge says.

While rumors have been floating around social media that the building was in foreclosure due to an erroneous listing on a website that describes it as a “single family residence,” university spokesperson Grant Scott-Goforth said that would be impossible, considering the property is owned by the state via the university.
He adds that attempts have been made to “correct” the listing.

Classes were last held in the building in the early 2000s and it's sat all but abandoned since then with just a single wing being used for storage.
click to enlarge The annex doors facing C Street. - FILE
  • File
  • The annex doors facing C Street.
The Children’s Center currently serves around 90 youngsters, down from more than 120 in 2017, when the program was cut amid budget and staffing woes, and was under consideration for more changes, including privatization, last year during another rounds of campus reductions.

At the time, the budget plan described the Children’s Center as “an important service” but stated “having a Children’s Center operated directly by the university is financially challenging to sustain.”

Things appear to be on more solid footing this year.

Started in 1971, the Children’s Center provides subsidized childcare, a service the Humboldt State Child Care Needs Assessment report by the California Center for Rural Policy found “should be considered as part of the basic needs of students, faculty and staff.”

The assessment compiled this year states that HSU “contributed $237,516 toward the Children’s Center’s operations in 2018,” which paid about 70 percent of the four-person staff’s salaries. The rest was covered by grants and daycare fees.

According to the report, the Children’s Center should be “supported in efforts to identify funding sources that will promote its long-term financial health” and the HSU Foundation should be encouraged to include the center in its “upcoming basic needs campaign.”

“An overwhelming sentiment among parents whose children attend the Children’s Center is that it meets, if not exceeds, their expectations — they are staff, faculty and students,” the report states. “Data from CCRP’s interviews and focus groups support the sense that the Children’s Center is a creative force that is woven through many facets of university life.”

Read the full HSU release below:
HSU has received $8.6 million to rebuild the Trinity Annex to house the University’s Children's Center. The Child Development Laboratory is also exploring opportunities to relocate to the remodeled space.

This project will allow more children to receive services, improve efficiency of operations and sustainability, open the programs’ current location to development, and reduce the amount of maintenance needed for campus infrastructure.

The renovation of the Trinity Annex, located at 14th and B Street on the south end of campus, is possible thanks to $8.6 million in one-time funding from the State of California Budget allocated by the CSU Office of the Chancellor. The project is expected to be completed in fall 2021. HSU President Tom Jackson, Jr. announced the project at the August 19 Fall Welcome.

The existing Trinity Annex building will undergo extensive work, but will retain the aesthetic of the west, original building. The building will be rebuilt to its current footprint design and complementary to the existing architecture. Built in 1944, the building served as the Trinity Hospital until 1972. The HSU auxiliary purchased the property in 1969 and transferred ownership to the University in 2018. Currently only the east wing is being used, for storage.

Under the University’s proposed plan, the rebuilt space will benefit the Children’s Center by providing a purpose-built children and instructional facility to operate in and provide quality child care. The rebuild will include play yards and better pedestrian and traffic circulation.

There will be a dedicated drop-off point, and the project will improve pedestrian access to the south campus entry with improvements to an existing bus stop, and better integration with the community to the south of the campus boundary.

“We are very excited for this move,” says Children’s Center Director Betsy Wilson. “This new facility will allow us to increase our ability to continue our mission of providing high quality childcare to families in the University community, as well as training opportunities for the many student assistants we employ.”

A report commissioned by HSU found that Early Childhood Education and the mission and values of the University are profoundly interrelated, and that child care is central to campus life for many students, staff, and faculty.

The survey conducted by the Campus Center for Rural Policy (CCRP) found that child care positively affects retention and improves the working environment. CCRP recommended the University help the Children’s Center increase funding and consider child care a basic need of students.

“Faculty and staff at Child Development Department and Child Development Lab are excited about this proposal,” says Hyun-Kyung You, Child Development Lab Program Leader. “Overall, this potentially helps us continue our vision and mission and do even better what we have been proudly doing.”

Established in 1971, the HSU Children’s Center has continually provided affordable, subsidized high quality child care and early education programs for children aged three months to five years of HSU students, staff, and faculty families. Along with providing a broad range of comprehensive services to families, the Children’s Center also employs student assistants as supervised “teachers in training” each semester.

For 50 years, the Child Development Lab, as a part of the Child Development Department, has been a special environment designed to provide a model preschool for children, create a learning center for University students and faculty, support and educate parents of young children, and serve as a research and instructional center at Humboldt State University.

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Kimberly Wear

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Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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