Child & Family Studies Center

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About CFSC


The purpose of the Child & Family Studies Center (CFSC) at California State University, Northridge is to provide:

  • Model programs for the observation, participation, and training of university students
  • Developmentally appropriate learning experiences for young children and their families
  • A naturalistic setting for faculty and student research
  • A resource for the professional and geographic community


As an accredited early childhood program, the Child & Family Studies Center understands that young children learn through active involvement with a variety of materials in a safe, nurturing, and enriched environment that encourages exploration and experimentation. We provide an atmosphere that promotes problem solving, and that values process over product. The children are encouraged to question, to hypothesize, and to think. The daily routine provides for a variety of valuable learning experiences that include individual, small group, and large group activities, as well as opportunities for interactions with both children and adults.


The CFSC has a long and proud history as a laboratory school. Originally located in the University Student Union, it was founded in 1965 as a Head Start program, and represented the combined efforts of the Department of Home Economics and the Department of Educational Psychology. In 1972, the CFSC was relocated to its present site, and remains an instructional unit of the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences (formerly the Home Economics Department). Since its inception, the CFSC has provided opportunities for the observation of young children, for practice in teaching, and for research by college faculty and students.

Licensing and Accreditation

The CFSC and the Infant/Toddler Center are both licensed by the State of California Department of Social Services (Title XXII). All Lead Teachers have met the requirements that are set forth by the state to include coursework in early childhood education, child development, and/or education. On a voluntary basis, early childhood programs may go through the process of a periodic self-study in order to demonstrate a commitment toward providing a high quality program for young children and their families. Through examination of the program, emphasis is placed on the quality of interactions between the staff and children, as well as the developmental appropriateness of the curriculum. This accreditation process is conducted every three years by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs, and complies with the guidelines set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The CFSC has maintained accreditation standards since 1989. Additionally, the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences is a member of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS).

Code of Ethics

CFSC staff abides by the NAEYC Code of Ethics (1988) by advocating laws and regulations that enhance the quality of life for young children; by supporting the rights of children to live and learn in environments that are responsive to their developmental needs; by striving to improve competencies in providing for children's needs; and by respecting each child's uniqueness, thus enhancing each child's self-respect.


An essential mission of the CFSC is to provide a study and research site where university faculty and students are encouraged to participate in appropriate developmental and behavior research. The University Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects must approve all research projects. Children may be observed and studied, and photographs may be used to document children's learning and development with parent permission. Graduate students whose thesis project focuses on early childhood years may contact the Director.

Growth and Development

Our program is designed to encourage and support the development of each child, through active, self-directed exploration and discovery. Learning experiences are designed and implemented that address individual needs and reflect the interests and strengths of each child. Based upon the assumption that children are active learners, the program provides opportunities to stimulate development of the "whole" child. The staff and students at the CFSC are concerned with the total and unique growth and development of each child by promoting:

    • Physical Development:
      • Developing fine/gross motor skills
      • Developing body and spatial awareness
      • Learning about healthy eating habits
    • Cognitive Development:
      • Encouraging emergent language and literacy skills
      • Developing concepts of classification, seriation, number
      • Discovery and exploration of the environment
    • Social-Emotional Development:
      • Developing a sense of self-confidence and worth
      • Achieving competence in relationships with peers and adults
      • Developing a sense of responsibility and persistence in completing tasks
    • Creative Development:
      • Expressing ideas and emotions through creative skills
      • Developing the ability to think in different and unique ways
      • Encouraging innovation and initiative in the use of materials and style of play