Grant gives children room to grow

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Nathan Carter / The Chart

Playtime will change following the conversion of the current playground at the Child Development Center.

Niki Corcoran / Staff Writer

Expansion is a continuing theme at Missouri Southern as the Child Development Center prepares to open its doors to younger children.  

An enhancement grant from the Department of Social Services has been approved, allowing the Center to serve children from birth to 5 years old. Currently the center starts children at 2 years old.

“It was our goal to serve students from to birth to 2,” say Dr. Glenn Coltharp, Dean of the School of Education. “We have parents that need to move to other centers if they have a newborn.”

The lack of facilities serving newborns in the area made this a priority for the CDC in order to serve current and future families.

A lot of changes will be made to the facility. One classroom will be divided into two sections separating the newborns from the older infants. Another classroom will be added for the older kids to prepare for kindergarten.

The current playground will be converted into an infant/toddler playground with rubber mats and low surfaces to crawl on. The grass area in front of Taylor Hall will be a new preschool playground with a large structure and rubber mulch.

At this time the CDC is satisfied with the staff they have, but another grant has been written to provide another teacher down the line. However, the main goal for the CDC is to eliminate their debts and sustain on their own. In the last three years the debt has decreased by $100,000.

“It is a need or desire to add another staff member, however it can be done in the current structure,” Coltharp said.

The goal at this time is to make the center more efficient both educationally and financially by offering more services for the families at Missouri Southern. The CDC will be able to take sixteen babies for the new classroom and families are lining up.

“We already have three families on the waiting list for the infant/toddler room,” said Nikki Tappana, Lead Teacher at the CDC.

The CDC offers a warm, home-like environment that focuses on academics as well as creative activities.

“One thing that makes our center unique is our combination of enrichment with academic activities for the students,” Coltharp said. “We try to create a family environment and keep learning fun.”

The center will remain open while the construction goes on, however it is unclear when the project will begin. The Physical Plant’s main concern is finishing the design work in Hearnes Hall before starting the designs on the CDC.

“The grant gives us until June of next year to finish the project, however if the second grant goes through, we will have to finish within six months,” said Bob Harrington, the Director of the Physical Plant. He is anticipating starting the design work within thirty to sixty days.