Expenses too high for Child Development Laboratories, parents react

Expenses too high for Child Development Laboratories, parents react

By Chase Myers, @chasemyers_DE

One of the goals of the Child Development Laboratories is to offer quality education to students while providing quality care to children. But after the summer, the 60-year-old institution will be temporarily closing its doors.

While funding remains the primary issue, lower enrollment from both students and children was also a factor.

“Continued budget uncertainty means that we cannot expect funding in the future in spite of the need for significant operational support and investment in physical improvements,” Keith Wilson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services said.

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Many things will have to change in the laboratory, Cathy Mogharreban, interim associate dean of the College of Education and Human Services, said.

“Some of the programming changes … would require costly hires and to make those changes to increase enrollment, the CDL expenses would increase at a rate that would outstrip gains made by the enrollment decreases,” Mogharreban said. “We can’t catch up.”

Not only are the currently enrolled children affected, but the CDL also employs a full staff that may have to look elsewhere for employment.

The master teacher will be reassigned to early childhood courses in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, while the interim director and the student teachers are only employed through the fall, she said

“CDL will look different, that we’re certain of,” Mogharreban said. 

She said the only age group to resume in the fall will be three to five year olds for half-days because they are part of a state-funded pre-kindergarten program. 

Some parents have expressed sadness to Mogharreban about having to look toward an alternative program for their children, she said.

“Preschool program models are very different from program to program and families want to have their children enrolled in a place that feels like home to them,” she said. “I understand very well because my own children went through the CDL many years ago and it’s a very special place.”

Even those who have had children in the CDL for several years ago are saddened by the closure, including Lisa Upton of Carbondale, who had two children in the program.

“I don’t know how the program was the last 10 years, but when Brianna came here, it was a great program,” she said. “She really got a lot out of it socially and academically, even though they were little at that point.”

Other parents question why they decided to close at the end of summer if there has been a possible decline in funding for years now.

“Those issues have been around, but now there is something that pushed it over the edge, and its like they’re not being very forthcoming about this,” Tim Rachatanavian of Carbondale said. “If you’re going to shut down, shut down, but I think you need to be more transparent about the ‘why’.”

While the program may explore alternative methods and models, a date and definite outcome are uncertain, Wilson said. 

He said the center’s staff would also help families during the transition period.

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