The Co-op Family Center is a nonprofit organization that has served University of Oregon (UO) student families, faculty, and community members in Eugene, Oregon for the past forty years. Our school’s educational philosophy has evolved over the forty years of our existence and continues to evolve as we learn from each other, our children, our families and from our research. We are a Reggio Emilia inspired school, based on an Italian child-centered philosophy. Based on our philosophy, we always put the child’s experience and discovery at the center of our theoretical thinking and work.
In 1978, the Co-op Family Center (formerly known as Amazon Co-op) started as a true cooperative in which UO student families traded time in order to support their childcare needs. There were ten families involved with the Amazon Co-op during that first year. In 1984, Amazon Co-op hired a director and a full-time teacher. As this time, the Amazon Co-op was one classroom of twenty-four children between the ages of two to five years old. Parents worked extensively in the classroom and in the kitchen. Co-oping was not mandatory, but parents received a tuition credit for time spent in the classroom.
In 1994, the Amazon Co-op grew to include kindergarten and school-age classrooms, and later that year, we included an infant/toddler program. The Amazon Co-op had a center director, five full-time teachers, and many work-study students from the University of Oregon working in the classroom. In 1996, the Amazon Co-op moved into a new building in Spencer View Student Housing and became the Co-op Family Center.
The Co-op Family Center has continued to grow and now provides childcare in six classrooms between infant and school age, serving more than 100 children. The Co-op Family Center currently employs a full-time Executive Director, Pedagogical Coordinator, Business Manager, Kitchen Coordinator, 11 Lead teachers, 2 part-time teachers providing extra coverage as needed, and 45-50 University of Oregon students. Since the spring of 2001 the Co-op Family Center has been a contracted program with the University of Oregon to continue its mission of providing early childhood education for University of Oregon students, faculty and staff.
Relationship with the University of Oregon
The Co-op Family Center has been associated with the University of Oregon for its entire 40-year history. As a UO affiliated childcare program, we strive to meet the needs of all children by providing an environment where children are encouraged to be actively involved in the learning process, to experience a variety of developmentally appropriate activities and materials without limitations or biases, and to pursue their own interests in the context of life in their community and the world.
As a UO affiliated childcare program, we continue to ensure and provide a learning environment that fosters respect for the responsiveness to the individual culture and beliefs of all families in the programs and the
community. We have adopted the Standards for Childcare Services guidelines. The guidelines were established by the UO Committee on Child Care and Family Support, Policies, and Procedures for operation of childcare services serving the UO community. The services guidelines include, but are not limited to, accessibility to campus, fee schedules, hours of operation, the annual operating calendar, and is commitment to continue and demonstrate responsiveness to these needs, as described by the “UO-Affiliated Child-Care Programs Statement of Philosophy.”
The Co-op Family Center has also fostered relationships with Moss Street Children’s Center and Vivian Olum Child Development Center. The three center directors meet regularly to discuss and support current childcare needs. We intend to maintain and develop this relationship with other childcare centers on campus and the parenting community at large. The Co-op Family Center’s Executive Director is affiliated with the University of Oregon Family Alliance Directors committee and collaborates on various initiatives associated with the well-being of UO student families.