|The Casper College (CC) Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) opened in 1990. Over the past 20 years, the ECLC has served as a preschool and childcare facility for the children of Casper College students and employees. The center also is a model lab-site for 40-50 CC and University of Wyoming/ Casper College (UW/CC) students studying early childhood development and education. The ECLC serves 52 children, age birth to five years old. Degreed teachers provide instruction for the three classrooms serving infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The center is nationally accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs. In the summer of 2010, the current facility will be demolished to make room for the new CC residence hall. The VP of Student Services and ECLC Director conducted an exhaustive search of college and community facilities to identify an appropriate space for relocating the center. No suitable facilities were found.
- 55% of the children qualify for free/reduced lunch.
- Over 50% of the children qualify for childcare assistance through the Department of Family Services.
- Approximately 11% of the children receive special needs services through the CDC of Natrona County.
- Approximately 330 students/volunteers from CC, UW/CC, NCSD, and the community utilize the center each year for educational purposes.
- The current center is operating at 100% of capacity and maintains a waiting list for children in need of quality childcare.
- The ECLC faculty mentor over 40 student teachers and students from Curriculum, Observation and Guidance, and Infant Toddler Care educational programs weekly.
The ECLC structure was built in the 1960s as a college dormitory. Today it shows significant signs of deterioration. Some of the concerns are:
- The center is crowded, lacks sufficient work space for teachers, and is very outdated.
- The current space is not specifically designed as a childcare facility.
- Storage is extremely limited.
- Teacher work space will accommodate only one teacher at a time.
- Playground is currently substandard but grand-fathered in for use.
- There is a need for a quiet and secure area for children with special needs to receive therapy.
- Front office space is not ADA accessible. Hallways are very narrow with materials such as shelves, cots, children’s cubbies, and shower curtains used as walls.
- Bathroom facilities do not meet the needs of adults or children. There is no separate sink for the Infant and Toddler classroom changing areas.
- The high quality of instruction and childcare gives young children educational and social advantages that translate into future success.
- The ECLC provides a “hands-on” lab site and observational laboratory for CC, UW/CC, and NCSD educational programs.
- The ECLC hires and trains 20 work study students each year providing them with financial resources for education and practical experience in quality childcare.
- The center assists many low-income CC families by providing them with quality childcare and referrals to other services.
- Children with disabilities are served on-site with the assistance of trained specialists.
- The ECLC provides early childhood training to parents, staff, NCSD, and other members of the community.
- The ECLC provides the campus and community with a lending library of materials related to early childhood and parenting issues.
Plans for the new 5,400 square foot building will provide a spacious, well-designed Early Childhood Learning Center. The new center will:
- Accommodate the specific needs of children, students, and parents.
- Increase the space available by 1,000 square feet.
- Meet standards for accreditation and licensing guidelines.
- Provide a space that is specifically designed as a child care facility.
Your contribution can help to leverage additional funding for this facility. A donation has the potential to be matched dollar to dollar by other funding sources.
- Early Childhood Learning Center Projected cost:
- $785,000 building
- $90,000 playground
- Funding source:
- Private contributions and grants
- Groundbreaking – May 5, 2010 at 11 a.m.
- Projected opening - August 30, 2010
- Director Donna Sonesen, M.A., Curriculum Instruction, emphasis in Early Childhood Education