Child Development Center uses innovation and technology to keep kids connected

The spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has changed lives across campus, including those of our youngest Longhorns. In response, the UT Child Development Center (UTCDC) came up with an innovative way to keep children connected to their friends and teachers by offering a nightly bedtime story via Facebook Live on the center’s private Facebook page. This is one of the many steps the program is taking to stay connected with children and their families while the UTCDC is temporarily closed.

UTCDC’s Assistant Site Director Lorri Barnett decided to host this event, which takes place at 7 p.m. nightly. During the center’s regular operations, Barnett hosts a Friday mystery reading program and has surprise visitors, mostly parents, read to children. So it was natural for her to continue the story time tradition, but in a new way.

“This service shows Lorri’s commitment to supporting parents and children while also fostering normalcy for children during a difficult time,” UTCDC Director Hara Cootes said. “One of the things adults must be aware of is the childhood trauma that can come from situations such as COVID-19.”

The Facebook Live bedtime story series began on Tuesday, March 17, and will continue nightly, giving children a sense of routine, connection and joy during an otherwise disruptive time. This bedtime story helps children have something fun to look forward to, connects them with their friends and adults outside of the home who care about them, and gives parents a little break.

“I love my job and my kiddos. It is important to stay connected with them while we are away from one another,” said Barnett.

Visit the UTCDC coronavirus page for updates on the status of the center.

UTCDC Assistant Site Director Lorri Barnett holds up some book examples that she reads over Facebook Live
UTCDC Assistant Site Director Lorri Barnett hosts a nightly Facebook Live bedtime story reading to support the center’s young students and their parents.
March 23, 2020