Gluck Child Care Center Nurtures and Stimulates Youngsters

By Mika Ono

As a parent of a two-year old, Nora Leaf, science associate in the Klinman lab, worries about her son’s colds, fussy moods, and leaky diapers. But she doesn’t worry about his childcare. That’s because her son attends The Maxwell H. and Muriel Gluck Child Care Center, a resource for employees of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Scripps Clinic, and ScrippsHealth.

“The Gluck Child Care Center is awesome,” Leaf says. "The teachers are excellent: they take a true interest in the children. And the facility is incredibly convenient for me. When Colin was an infant I was able to go over and nurse every two hours. Now I visit once a day just to play with him."

The Gluck Child Care Center, located on the East side of the TSRI campus on a hill with a sweeping view, serves 125 children from three months through kindergarten. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the center is open from 6:45 AM to 6:45 PM. The curriculum includes creative arts, music, movement, critical thinking, problem solving, science, language and literacy, as well as opportunities for social development.

"We offer a play-based program that encourages imagination and self-expression," says Silvana Vollero, the center’s executive director whose son also attends the center. "Recently, we’ve been inspired by the philosophy coming out of a small town in Italy, Reggio Emilia, which encourages children to learn through their experiences and express themselves through art."

The center is structured around eight, age-appropriate classes with low adult-child ratios. Two infant rooms accommodate six babies each. On the other end, the kindergarten is at capacity with 12 children. "We differ from many other schools by having two teachers—not a teacher and an assistant—in the classroom," comments Vollero. "I find teachers work together and complement each other’s strengths."

In addition to taking care of the children’s needs, the center also supports their families. According to Vollero, many of the center’s families come from other countries and arrive knowing few people in San Diego.

"Because so many of our families are new to the area, we go out of our way to make the center one base of community support for them," comments Vollero. "Also, because many of our parents are pressed for time, we’ve changed our approach to parent involvement. Instead of separating adults from children, we now emphasize activities where parents and children participate together, encouraging more family time rather than less."

Founded in 1993, the center continues to evolve. Two years ago, the auditorium was turned into another playground to make better use of the space. Most recently, the center raised $22,000—through a grant from the County of San Diego, funding from The Dr. Seuss Foundation, and proceedings from a children’s art auction—to install rubber matting under one of the main play structures.

To Vollero, however, the goal has remained the same: providing top-notch childcare for the larger Scripps community.

For more information, contact Vollero, mail drop CCC1, e-mail, or (858) 455-5220. The center’s web site,, also provides information. There is a waiting list for many age groups, so Vollero advises parents to submit their applications early.


The center’s play-based program encourages imagination and self-expression.