Malones Early Learning Center

Mission Statement

The mission of Malones Early Learning Centers, Inc. is to provide high quality, accessible, affordable, and educational child care services to families and provide each child with a quality learning experience that meets their needs in an appropriate manner.

We believe that children develop to their fullest potential when they are loved, secure and happy with themselves. Our staff provides warm, nurturing interaction with children to enhance each child’s positive self-esteem.

We believe in providing a developmentally appropriate curriculum that addresses the “process” of learning to enhance successful experiences for each individual child. Learning centers are designed to allow children to explore experience and succeed.

We believe that children learn best in an environment abounding in opportunities and stimulating materials to explore, with a balance of planned activities and free choice activities.

We believe that children learn by progressing from the familiar to explore new areas and new roles.

Our History

Malone Day Care Center, the oldest childcare Center in Williamson County, was founded by Lois Malone in June of 1969. The original center consisted of one classroom licensed for 17 children that expanded to 3 classrooms serving 35 children. In 1980, the Center at 112 S. Division was opened to provide care for school-age children under the directorship of William R. Malone. An addition was later added to accommodate additional pre-school children. In 1999, the building at 108 Walnut was opened and the school-age classroom was moved to that facility. The Center was then licensed for 108 children. The Center at 112 S. Division Street was remodeled into two classrooms for infants in 2001 and three classrooms for toddlers and two year olds. In 2004, the Center at 122 Walnut was opened for Head Start and Pre-k classrooms and collaboration was initiated with Southern Region Early Childhood and SIU Head Start, increasing the Center’s licensed capacity to 186. In 2006, Malones Early Learning Center became a part of John A. Logan College Early Learning Collaboration to provide Pre-k services for working parents and offer joint training for staff and students. In August, 2008, Malones ISBE program became an independent program under the center’s operation. In 2011, due to state funding, the Center lost their funding for Pre-K but continue to provide the ISBE program with a certified teacher. March 1, 2009, both centers were incorporated to become Malones Early Learning Centers, Inc I and II. The parent site, Malone Day Care, was closed as of 1/14/2013 to centralize care at one site and focus on quality issues at Malones Early Learning Center Inc.

The Centers are dedicated to the memory of William R. Malone, and Lois J Malone. They started this business in June of 1969. William and Lois were advocates for children and families on both the state and national levels. The driving force of these two very special people was to give every child a chance to succeed and the love that they deserved.

Accreditation History

Designing and implementing a national accreditation model has been an ongoing process for the National Accreditation Commission. In 1991, professionals from the fields of early care and education, administration, business, health care, safety engineering, and regulatory enforcement met to discuss the feasibility of designing an accreditation system that identified and acknowledged early care and education programs providing optimal developmental opportunities for children.

A thorough review of relevant research and insight obtained from educational bodies and professional associations was conceptualized into the first National Accreditation Commission model. The accreditation document was field-tested over a three-year period in several states and was made available in 1992. The document has been revised to keep pace with emerging research.

Malone's Staff

Lee Eklund

Executive Director holds an associate degree from John A Logan and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Kendall College, both in early childhood education. He has over 22 years of experience in early childhood. Mr. Lee has a Level II Director’s Credential from the State of Illinois. He also holds a current CPR Certificate. Mr. Lee sits on the Board of Director’s for the Carterville Chamber of Commerce, the Carbondale Science Center, and the Southern Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children. In the latter capacity, he is the Southern delegate to the Illinois AEYC state board and represents Southern Illinois children and families in Springfield and Washington D.C.

Donna Eklund

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has extensive experience in this field including 20 years at this site. She is responsible for doing contracts, taxes, payroll, and all financial aspects of the business.

William Malone

Site director. William attended John A. Logan College and Kendall College for Early Childhood. He has a Level IV Early Childhood Credential and a Level II Infant/Toddler Credential. He holds a Certificate from the Secretary of State to be a teacher assistant for Pre-K. He holds current CPR, First Aide and Water Safety Certification. He is also the Food Service Manager and holds a current Illinois Food Handlers Certificate. Currently he mentors staff on curriculum and assessment and is the lead teacher for the pre-school class.

April Malone

April Malone is the Infant/Toddler Director. She has 16 years of experience working at the center plus 4 years of prior childcare experience. She attended St. Louis Community College, SIU and John A. Logan College. She is working on her Early Childhood and Infant/Toddler Credentials. When it comes to singing praises, a parent said it best, “As a new mother returning to work after maternity leave, I was extremely nervous and reluctant to leave my child in the care of another. Ms. April showed compassion towards me and an understanding of my internal conflict of leaving my baby. She provided tender, loving and safe care to my son and the other babies. The room had a warm, cozy yet stimulating ambience. I felt very confident and secure and my son thrived.” Ms. April provides that type of care for all infants and toddlers whether she is supervising other staff or personally providing the care.