Southeast Missouri State University today announced it will close its Child Development Center at its Sikeston campus effective June 29 due to significant budget challenges facing the University.
“Our child care facility has served the needs of our Sikeston students and the community extraordinarily well, so this is a very difficult decision for the University,” said Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University. “Unfortunately, we no longer can underwrite and subsidize the cost of providing childcare at the facility.”
Vargas said that despite the Center’s designation in 2009 as an exemplary model of grant funded programs by Moving on Together, a technical and professional development component of the Missouri Preschool Project in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, “the magnitude of the University’s budget needs necessitates this action.”
He thanked the staff and teachers for the care they have provided over the years to the children served by the Center. He also thanked the children’s parents for the trust they placed in the Center.
The Center’s last day of operation will be June 29. The Center will adjust the cost of services based on a daily rate once parents find alternative child care and provide notice of the intended final attendance date for their child.
A family meeting to discuss the closure process and answer questions is planned for 5 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Sikeston campus.
The Child Development Center at the Sikeston campus opened in February 2006 with three classrooms. An expansion, funded by a $130,000 Missouri Preschool Project grant, added an additional classroom in 2008. The Center also has an outdoor classroom that opened in 2008 with funds from a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education block grant.
The Center’s four classrooms have served infants (from 6 weeks old), toddlers, 2-3-year-olds and 3-5-year-olds. It is licensed to serve 58 children and has offered full- and part-time care.
In addition, the Center has served as a real-world experience for students studying child development and early childhood education. University officials said other child care sites in the region can help meet this demand for University students seeking this field experience.
The decision announced today became necessary after a thorough review of the University’s budget needs as a result of a $3.43 million withholding from its FY17 appropriation in January 2017, a 9 percent cut in its FY18 appropriation, and the anticipation of additional cuts in FY19 based on the Governor’s recent budget recommendations.
“This has been a very difficult decision, knowing the hardships it will place on the children, their families and their teachers,” he said. “I regret delivering this news to you today.”
For more information on the closure of the Sikeston Child Development Center, please contact the Office of the President at Southeast Missouri State University at (573) 651-2552.