Old Dominion University's Children's Learning & Research Center (CLRC) will resume full operating hours of 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. starting Feb. 7.

Early education and childcare have faced a crisis in skilled staffing that precedes the pandemic. The past two years have been especially challenging for centers like the CLRC, with national reports noting the field has lost one-third of early education employees. The CLRC has relied heavily on student workers to support the lead teachers and ensure state-mandated teacher-to-children ratios are maintained. However, since the pandemic began in March 2020, the CLRC has faced an unprecedented shortage of hourly workers, with less than half of the pre-pandemic staffing.

In response to this crisis, President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., authorized the hiring of four new teacher positions to reduce reliance on student workers, enable the center to resume and maintain full operating hours, and to ensure the continued excellence of care.

In a note to staff, Austin O. Agho, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and Tammi F. Dice, interim dean of the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies, acknowledged the critical importance that high-quality early education and childcare plays in enabling ODU faculty, staff and students to engage fully in their work and studies. They also expressed their appreciation for Kimberly Williamson, the director of the CLRC, as well as her teachers and teaching assistants for their extraordinary efforts throughout the past two years to keep the CLRC open and thriving despite the challenges.