Child and Family Studies

Division III Chair: J. Blythe

Program Chair: K. Rivers Thompson

Faculty: J. Blythe, E. Burke, M. Dotson, N. Mecham, K. Rivers Thompson, and A. Woodward

Child and Family Studies is an interdisciplinary program that promotes the development and maintenance of strong and healthy families through educational experiences that lead to the enrichment of individual and family life. Our discipline of study promotes critical thinking, offers a comprehensive understanding of the family, and prepares students for professional employment in areas of service to families and children. Our approach to learning seeks to integrate conceptual knowledge of the family as a societal unit with related educational concepts from the natural sciences, social sciences, and other disciplines. The curriculum explores the interrelatedness of the family with other societal systems, such as the economy, the legal system, religion, media, and popular culture. We broadly explore lifespan human development and the needs of individual members and the family as a system. We emphasize effective communication skills in individual, family, and professional roles. Students study the interaction of families with their near environment, including sustainable housing, consumer decision making, and effective resource management. Course work in all of the concentrations allows graduates to meet both personal and professional goals. We are committed to the preparation of creative, independent thinkers who demonstrate respect for diversity and are willing to serve as agents of positive social change.

As a program, we strive to personify the College’s mission of service. We build upon the College’s liberal academic foundation to prepare students to become well-rounded individuals, contributing family members, and agents of social change in their communities, society, and world. The program is based on a philosophy of applied knowledge. Child and Family Studies majors have undertaken internships in spouse-abuse shelters, homeless shelters, Head Start programs, family resource centers, child care centers, social service agencies, food banks and kitchens, child advocacy centers, senior citizen centers, and many other locations where the students provide service while studying social issues to understand the broader scope of social change. Additional learning opportunities are encouraged though Independent, Team-Initiated, or Directed Study, or through the Labor Program. Most of the program’s graduates go into lives of service.

The program offers a B.A. degree in Child and Family Studies with three areas of concentration: Child Development; Family Studies; Nutrition and Food Studies. Students interested in pursuing a Masters in Social Work or a teaching career in Family and Consumer Sciences or Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education can be advised on appropriate course selections for preparation for graduate study in these areas. In addition, the Program offers supportive instruction for other majors and minors such as Appalachian Studies, Asian Studies, Education Studies, Nursing, Theatre, and Women and Gender Studies.

The program of Child and Family Studies operates in a variety of facilities. The Emery Building houses faculty offices, classrooms, food science laboratories, housing and interior design facilities, and a specialized foods library, all extensively renovated in 2009.  The Harrison-McLain Home Management House offers a dual learning environment for our majors, It is the laboratory for the family resource management capstone practicum and serves as an upper-level female residence hall for selected program majors. The state-of-the-art Child Development Laboratory, located on Jefferson Street, offers settings for observations and interaction with children from infancy through pre-school age and after-school care. The lab is licensed for up to 130 children for full-time day care and serves as the primary laboratory and research facility for majors in child development. However, other majors, such as Nursing, Education Studies, Psychology, and Sustainability and Environmental Studies (SENS), regularly use the facility as an educational laboratory. The CDL also serves the College by providing high-quality care for the young children of students, staff, and faculty.

In order that each CFS major gains an insightful and holistic perspective of the family as a societal unit, a core curriculum of six courses is required to provide a common body of knowledge central to understanding the needs of the family, along with acknowledging potential strengths and contributions provided by the family.  Each student intending to major in CFS will be expected to maintain a Collected Works Notebook to be reviewed regularly by his/her advisor. Expectations and contents will be provided in annual CFS meetings.

The program has special policies regarding CFS 186/286/386/486 (Special Topics) and CFS 395/495 (Internship), as indicated in the applicable concentration and course descriptions to follow.

In order to satisfy a programmatic requirement for having direct interaction with children, all CFS majors are required to undergo criminal background and child-abuse checks, as well as a TB skin test. A nominal fee for these checks will be charged to the student’s College account. Students can have the TB test conducted at College Health Services. Students must turn in copies of the results of the background checks and TB test to be kept on file in the CFS Office. The checks and TB test will be done while enrolled in CFS 130. Students transferring a course equivalent to CFS 130 will be required to give written evidence of completing the checks and TB test individually. Any students who have recently completed the checks and/or TB test may bring proof of these and be exempt from the CFS 130 requirement. Students should keep their original documents as proof of compliance in their personal files, because these documents are frequently required by schools, social agencies, volunteer organizations, and other employers.