The History of ECE Department

The Early Childhood Education Department began in 1969 due to the increasing community need for the training of preschool teachers and aides to meet the licensing regulations of Title XXII and Title V.

In 1969, Joanne Hendrick was selected as the first department chairperson, who together with the help of community ECE professionals such as Sarah Foote, Lou Grant, Bette Deckenback, Elinor Brelsford, and Norah Clancy developed a course of study that offered both a certificate and degree.  In the ensuing years, other department chairs have been Cecelia Alvarado-Kuster, Dr. Kelly O. Lake, and Julie Smith.

The Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Children's Center was opened in the Fall of 1972 with money from the California State Department of Education, at a location near the main campus of SBCC on Coronel Avenue. Space was inadequate to meet the needs of fifty-five children enrolled and to serve as the lab for the ECE Department. So with the acquisition of bond revenues, a new site was purchased, a building constructed and occupied in the Spring of 1977, at 365 Loma Alta Drive.  In 2005, a generous donation was made by Paul Orfalea which allowed the development of the Infant and Toddler component and the eventual name change to the Orfalea Early Learning Center. 

The core courses developed in the early years of the department remain a primary part of the curriculum, although modifications, alterations, and additions have occurred to update and improve the certificate and degree requirements. Curriculum changes have reflected a shift in the training of students for traditional nursery schools to child development centers.

The curriculum is constantly expanding to meet the need for students to be more versatile and knowledgeable in areas such as infant/toddler development and care, brain development, diversity issues, parent relationships, and school-age care. A strong interest in special topic classes remains and is a major source of professional development for many licensed teachers and others already working in the profession. This group of curriculum offers an intermingling of community professionals with the ECE majors.