CARBONDALE — A 62-year-old Southern Illinois University research center will close its doors at the end of the summer thanks to declining enrollment and ongoing budget woes.
Since 1953, Childhood Development Laboratories has offered childcare services to parents and research opportunities to SIU students training for careers in early-childhood education and related fields.
Cathy Mogharreban, associate dean for academic and student affairs with SIU College of Education and Human Services, said the decision is “heartbreaking” but necessary.
“This was certainly not an easy decision,” she said. “CDL has been a stellar facility, and our early childhood programs continue to be strong, but the fiscal realities of what the program and SIU are facing is just making this cost-prohibitive. This is a very costly operation.”
Enrollment of both children and the SIU students who work with them has been trending down. According to a news release, the center’s capacity is 62 children. In fall 2014, 39 were enrolled. That number dropped to 37 this past spring and 21 this summer.
Enrollment in the college’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction decreased from 199 in 2009 to 115 in 2014. Mogharreban attributes the decline to changes in state accreditation requirements that set a higher bar for teacher licensure.
Meanwhile, the facility itself, located in Quigley Hall, is in need of repairs -- upgrades and maintenance the university can’t afford.
Parents of children enrolled at the center have been informed of the closing. University officials will help them make other arrangements in the fall. Mogharreban said Rainbow’s End, a childcare facility that serves children of SIU employees, and other nearby facilities, should be able to accommodate CDL’s children.
Department officials are in talks with another grant-funded program affiliated with SIU, Southern Region Early Childhood Programs, to fill the research and hands-on experience void left by the center’s closing.
For Mogharreban, it’s the end of an era. Not only has she supervised student researchers at the center, but her three children also were enrolled there.
“CDL is so close to my heart,” she said. “I’ve got a brochure on my desk from the 1980s with a picture of my son on the front. This has been a really, really difficult decision.”