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Early Learning Center

UD would contend that preparation for high school graduation and college readiness begins long before students start middle school; its commitment to providing high quality early care and education programs to the youngest, most vulnerable members of DE begins at the UD Early Learning Centers (ELC). In its 5th year, the Newark ELC is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a recognition awarded to only 5% of all child care centers nationwide. It annually provides care to 240 children and their families, specifically those with risk factors including poverty (40%), foster care (10%) and disabilities (20%). In its 2nd year, ELC-Wilmington is a partnership with Neighborhood House, Inc., and New Directions Early Head Start, to operate the only licensed child care facility in Southbridge, that provides a comprehensive approach to child and family support while affording UD students and faculty the opportunity to learn, work, and conduct research in an inner city setting. 600+ undergraduate and graduate students pursue clinical experiences, service-learning, and community-based research projects. In addition, students volunteer-the Greek Council provided over 240 hours of labor including landscape work and raised $10,000 for the ELC.

At the ELC, Faculty engage in interdisciplinary community-based research (over 55 projects) with findings that can be applied to directly benefit children and families.

Type of project: Community Based Research

Title of project: Robot - Assisted Infant Mobility Project

Community Partners: Babies and their parents in the Newark, Delaware community

Description of Project: A University of Delaware research team uses robotics to provide infants with independent mobility, thus enhancing their mobility and development. The project is being led by principal investigator James C. (Cole) Galloway, associate professor of physical therapy, and co-principal investigator Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering. The Early Learning Center provides a rich setting for discovery. Undergraduate researchers, as well as graduate students and most recently, high school students have contributed to the work of the team.

Currently, infants who cannot walk due to severe brain, muscle and/or bone disorders must wait until they are three years of age, if not much older, before a power wheelchair is available to them. The research team hopes to make mobility available at a much younger age.