The University of Southern Indiana is announcing the Children’s Learning Center (CLC), located on campus, will not be reopening. Due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CLC closed, along with the USI campus, on March 18. With the campus closure, the normal recruitment and acceptance of new children to the CLC did not take place, causing a significant impact to the CLC’s 2020-2021 budget. This shortfall exacerbated the cumulative impact of annual operating deficits for the CLC over a number of years, which have been subsidized by University funds.
“Over time, the CLC has provided quality programming for children, educational opportunities for our students and a convenient and important benefit to our USI campus community,” said Dr. Ronald S. Rochon, USI President. “Child care has had a presence on our campus for more than four and a half decades and is part of our culture, which makes this decision particularly difficult.”
Another factor in the decision to close is the need for significant, costly improvements to the temporary building that houses the center.
“In the recent master planning process for the campus, we put forward a plan to move the CLC to the interior of the campus and construct a new building,” noted Dr. Zane Mitchell, who provides administrative oversight for the CLC and is Dean of USI’s Pott College of Science, Engineering, and Education. “When we think about the needs of our faculty, staff and students, investing upwards of $10 million dollars in a new building is not feasible at this time. We hope to bring child care back to campus at some time in the future when funding permits.”
The University is engaging with 4C of Southern Indiana, Inc., the regional Child Care Resource and Referral agency for Southern Indiana, to consider options for care of the children served by the CLC and possible employment opportunities for the CLC staff.
USI met with the seven impacted CLC employees today and is committed to helping with their transition. With information and assistance from 4C of Southern Indiana, CLC employees may consider applying for available, local child-care positions.
The University also notified parents of affected children today to discuss local options for future care. 4C of Southern Indiana indicated that child-care openings are available, and they are offering individual consultative appointments to help families find the right fit for their children.
"Although it is hard to say goodbye to the children and families we serve, as well as the staff, USI will maintain strong support of Early Childhood Education in our community and beyond,” said Dr. Jill Raisor, Chair of Teacher Education. “Our Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education is developing high quality teachers. Our faculty will continue to work closely with local child care centers and schools for mutually-beneficial educational experiences. We also will maintain our active participation in professional networks, ensuring continued best practice and advocacy for the profession of Early Childhood Education."
The USI CLC has a long history of health and safety and caring for children and has been state licensed at the highest quality level 4 and nationally accredited. The CLC has existed primarily to serve children, ages 2-5 years, of the faculty and staff of the University.
Photo Credit: USI Photography and Multimedia