Shippensburg University, along with three other universities, is sharing portions of an $11.8 million grant toward the benefit of the workforce in the early childhood field.
Jennifer Pyles, SU teacher education professor, said the grant will fund two professional development organizations, including the Early Childhood Education Professional Development Organization at Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (ECEPDO@PASSHE).
ECEPDO@PASSHE which is affiliated with SU, and through the partnership, will benefit the education programs at Lock Haven, East Stroudsburg and Edinboro Universities.
The other professional development organization will be through the public health management corporation, according to Pyles.
The grant will also provide $5.9 million annually over the span of two years.
According to SU’s center for early childhood website, the faculty at ECEPDO@PASSHE “will guide the effort to build an efficient and effective framework for early childhood educators’ career development.”
Pyles said the organization is working to create credit-bearing coursework for the workforce who have limited education. She said that it will aim to provide more educational opportunities, and invites those with their associates, child development associate (CDA) and those without a degree to join to achieve up to their bachelor’s degree.
SU’s center for early childhood education website states that there will be “cohorts in areas with diverse populations,” and puts emphasis on how coursework will be updated to fit the needs for non-English speaking students. Also, to get a better understanding of the needs of the areas, the program will use early childhood liaisons.
The program will be state supported, so those who will be participating in the future will receive tuition assistance or subsidies. However, for many who want to participate in the future, the tuition assistance may not be enough. Pyles said she is investigating “soft-costs” such as providing childcare and transportation.
Pyles reported that they are looking into various formats to offer coursework, including online and in-person, which will meet the requirements of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
She also said that she is planning to offer support services such as career counseling, academic advising and life coaching. The services will exist to help their students be successful in completing the program.
The website also mentions that apprenticeships for early childhood education will also be offered.
The work plan for the program is due in January and Pyles and the staff of ECEPDO@PASSHE, are working to meet that deadline.