Renovations Begin on New Location for Early Childhood Lab
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 25, 2014) ― The University of Kentucky College of Education held a ceremonial groundbreaking yesterday to mark the beginning phase of renovation of a building that will soon house the Early Childhood Laboratory (ECL). The new facility, which is scheduled to open in January 2015, will allow the childcare center to double in size, serving more than 100 children using best early childhood practices.
This new location is a 10,000 square foot, freestanding building next to the facilities of the former Lexington Theological Seminary, recently acquired by UK. The ECL is currently located in the basement of Erickson Hall.
"For nearly 80 years, UK has provided care for Central Kentucky children at its Early Childhood Lab," said Mary John O'Hair, dean of the UK College of Education. "The lab has the highest quality ratings of any early care and education program in Kentucky and the nation. More than 1,000 students per semester gain observation hours and clinical experiences in the lab, which serves as a teaching facility to train the next generation of early childhood professionals. UK College of Education faculty, staff and students are eager to have a new and innovative space for the children we serve that will match the quality of this vital program."
The ECL educates children from infant through pre-school and provides the College of Education students with an excellent opportunity to gain field experience in early childhood teaching. It also provides on-campus childcare for faculty and staff.
The ECL is also extending the reach of its state-of-the-art early childhood services by launching a new partnership with Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS), who will share the space with the ECL. VIPS is a nonprofit organization that provides educational and therapeutic services to young children of the Commonwealth who have visual impairments.
The UK Board of Trustees approved the $3 million capital project last year. It is being funded by a $1 million internal loan, private gifts and general funds. The College of Education will repay the principal of the loan over a period not to exceed 10 years. The Office of the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration will pay the accrued interest on the internal loan.
Established in 1928, the ECL is operated by the UK College of Education's Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Counseling’s Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education Program. Presently, it is licensed for 54 children, ages 6 weeks to 6 years. Each semester, about 1,100 students visit the ECL from a variety of programs across campus. Additionally, students conduct master's theses and dissertations in the ECL.