June 16, 2015

SIU Child Development Laboratories to suspend operations

The Child Development Laboratories at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will suspend operations at the end of the summer due to ongoing financial issues. CDL has served as a training ground for SIU students studying early childhood education since 1953.

Keith Wilson, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, said that the college and university have not had the resources to subsidize the CDL for several years, and fees from the families of participating children do not cover the costs of operation.

“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,” he said.

Other factors contributing to the decision include declining enrollment of children in the CDL and a decline in the number of SIU students studying early childhood education.

The number of children enrolled in the center is well below its capacity of 62, Wilson said, with 39 enrolled in fall 2014, 37 enrolled in spring 2015 and 21 this summer.

The number of SIU students studying early childhood education in the college’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction has also declined, due in large part to state changes in accreditation requirements. Enrollment was 199 in 2009 and 115 in 2014, Wilson said. He said that the CDL has served as one of many training sites for early education students, and the region offers an ample number of alternative training sites to meet the reduced demand. In addition, faculty research based at the CDL has also declined given multiple alternatives, Wilson said.

 “The college can fulfill its educational and research mission far more cost-effectively by suspending operations at CDL,” Wilson said, “While this is a difficult decision given the long history of CDL serving multiple generations in the community, we believe it is the most responsible option given our current needs and environment.”

Wilson said that the university may explore an alternative model for the center, but the timing and outcome are uncertain. Meanwhile, families with children enrolled this summer, as well as those hoping to enroll children in the fall, are being notified that they will need to seek alternative child care. Center staff will assist families as possible, he said.

Contact: Cathy Mogharreban, associate dean for academic and student affairs, College of Education and Human Services, 618-453-7314