The Center was founded by Ethel Seiderman. In the early ‘70's, Ethel was approached by a group of parents in Marin County who wanted to set up an affordable child care center in the county. Along with her friend Dorothy Hughes, Ethel began a long lobbying campaign that persuaded such organizations as Community Action Marin, the County Office of Education, the (then) Welfare Department, the United Way and the State Department of Education to support a child care facility that would help families better themselves through a community-based program. Ethel’s vision was for a place where middle-and low-income families could receive affordable child care and other desperately needed services that would allow adults to further their education and attend jobs while their children were being cared for in a healthy environment.
The result was the Fairfax-San Anselmo Children’s Center which opened in 1973 with Ethel as the Director. From the start, the philosophy of the Children’s Center has been to “keep an ear on what families needed for it to work for them. We asked ‘How can we put together and integrate systems that eliminate barriers to succeeding?’ The Center has many programs that have been integrated into the program, a transportation program, providing school-age children transportation to and from the local public and private schools, activities, classes, workshops, teenage support and other opportunities requested by the families that attend the Center as well as a male involvement component which encourages significant men in the lives of the children to become more involved in the activities and education of their children. One of Ethel’s favorite quotes has always been, “in order for a child to thrive, the family needs to thrive.” To this day, this philosophy still runs true throughout the Center.
The Center is now run by Heidi Tomsky, Executive Director and Erik Schweninger, Program Director. The setting could not be more beautiful, tucked away in a little corner of Fairfax, California, appropriately called Deer Park. Ask nearly any kid who went here as a child about their childhood memories and most of their answer will be about their time spent here at the Center.