Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has announced a $1.4 million grant to increase the quality of Pennsylvania’s early childhood learning professional workforce.
The Higher Education, Early Child Care, and Community-based Partnership Working to Implement Innovative and Sustained Pathways grant will enable early childhood education staff to participate in and complete a credit-bearing Child Development Associate (CDA), associate degree, bachelor degree, and/or Pennsylvania PreK-4 teacher certification.
“My administration is committed to expanding access to quality pre-kindergarten programs so our children have a positive start to their education,” said Governor Wolf. “Having educated and knowledgeable early childhood educators creates quality classrooms, supports positive relationships with children, and advances the argument for increased compensation – early childhood teachers make an average of $9-$12/hour, even with a degree.”
The competitive grant, made available through Pennsylvania’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant, will support currently employed early childhood educators pursuing higher education. Drexel University, Carlow University, and Shippensburg University were successfully funded to build cross-systems partnership opportunities to identify and reduce barriers to access early childhood education degrees for currently employed early childhood educators.
“Studies show children benefit most when their teachers have high levels of formal education and specialized early childhood professional preparation,” said DHS Acting Secretary Teresa Miller. “One indicator of high-quality programs is the employment of a teaching staff that has the educational qualifications, competencies, and professional commitment necessary to promote young children’s learning and development and to support families’ diverse needs and interests.”
The grant will provide seed funds to create an internal support system that encourages the educational process of future early childhood education professionals.
“Pennsylvania has been exploring ways to increase the number of high-quality, effective teachers in classrooms across the commonwealth, from pre-K to postsecondary, and this grant program only enhances those efforts,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “This opportunity will benefit not just the childhood education staff who take advantage of it, but also all the students they will teach in the years to come.”
Shippensburg University will create a Center for Early Childhood Education, designed to support those working in the field, archive important resources, and communicate regulatory requirements and current trends long after the grant work has been completed.
Drexel University will replicate the nation’s first early childhood education apprenticeship model and assist teachers to be matched with Institutes of Higher Education through an innovative website. This project will establish a sustainable regional partnership, raising the quality of early childhood programs and contributing to the professionalization of the early childhood workforce throughout Berks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties, and statewide with online programs.
Carlow University will establish an innovative learning hub, serving as the nexus of professional development, career and certification focused workshops, lending library of materials and resources, and a collaboration of value-added components between organizations.
The grant is a partnership between the Pennsylvania Departments of Education and Human Services Office of Child Development and Early Learning and the Pennsylvania Department of Education Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education.
In December 2013, Pennsylvania won a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant of $51.7 million. This grant builds upon Pennsylvania’s successes to provide more at-risk children, such as children living in low-income families, English language learners, children with disabilities and developmental delays, and children experiencing homelessness, with high-quality early learning opportunities to close the achievement gap.