Castleton Announces Early Childhood Initiative

In front of hundreds of early childhood educators at the opening of the Early Childhood Institute, Castleton University President, Dr. Karen M. Scolforo, announced the anticipated launch of the Early Childhood Lab at Castleton University.

The Early Childhood Lab at Castleton University will be a childcare center that provides educational opportunities for future early childhood educators, employment for current early childhood educators, and a host of collaborative opportunities across curriculum, across campuses, and throughout the state.

"This new initiative will likely lead to the creation of an early childhood education program and create yet another direct pathway between Community College of Vermont and Castleton," said Dr. Scolforo. "The Early Childhood Lab addresses several needs throughout the state including a new childcare facility, an accredited bachelor's degree program leading to early childhood licensure, and the potential for a new diagnostics center."

According to Scolforo the lab will be a hallmark of a collaborative, experiential learning model, allowing CCV graduates a seamless transition to a bachelor's degree while also offering a complete four-year program. "We envision on-campus collaborations with our Master of Arts in School Psychology and our Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Analysis as well as several opportunities for students to engage in hands-on, experiential learning while pursuing bachelors and master's degrees."

In the planning stages since early in the spring semester, Castleton has identified an on-campus site for the center and has begun to explore and apply for funding through several grants.

"This process has been very rewarding as we have worked through the development phase," Scolforo said. "We recently had a preliminary site visit from Vermont's Department for Children and Families Child Development Division to walk through regulations and planning. To be able to make the announcement today as we begin to host hundreds of early childhood educators on our campus for the week really brings it all together."

The four-day Early Childhood Institute, hosted in partnership with the Vermont Early Childhood Education Consortium, consists of 16 hybrid courses designed to promote Vermont's core values for early education and meet the needs of teachers of all levels. A strong emphasis is placed on courses that deepen practice, meet child care professional development requirements, and assist teachers in obtaining or retaining licenses and endorsements. The institute, an annual event at Castleton, set a new high-water mark for enrollment this year.

Scolforo expects to have the Early Childhood Lab at Castleton University operational in July 2019 with an anticipated start date for the early childhood education program of fall 2019 pending approval of the Castleton Faculty Assembly and Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees. "We are committed to delivering an accessible, affordable, and transformational education at Castleton University. This is another great example of how we can partner with other organizations to help grow Vermont's workforce, fill a need in providing childcare and childcare providers throughout the state, while also delivering a holistic education to prepare students for a global workplace."