The Lewis Family Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) at Ozarks Technical Community College will expand to serve infants and toddlers beginning in the fall of 2021. The expansion is made possible by a $180,494 grant from the Missouri Department of Social Services. The ECEC currently serves children between the ages of 2-5 years old and is available for OTC students, employees and community members.
“This grant is great news for parents and for our college students studying early childhood education,” said Jennifer Crouch, ECEC director. “We’ll be able to serve children at a younger age, and, since we are a laboratory school, our college students will gain valuable experience working with infants and toddlers.”
Grant funds will be used to renovate a space for a new classroom, improve another classroom, buy furniture and supplies, and pay for training for new staff members. Initially, the Early Childhood Education Center will enroll eight infants and toddlers. With the expansion, the ECEC will be able to serve up to 88 children between the ages of birth to 5 years old.
“This type of funding is especially vital now as we have seen numerous childcare facilities close due to COVID-19,” said Marilyn Madden, department chair of Early Childhood Development at OTC. “We are extremely thankful for this funding and grateful to be able to offer more services to OTC students, employees and the community.”
The Lewis Family Early Childhood Education Center and the Early Childhood Development Department at OTC are both accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.