PA Invests $1.5 Million in Early Childhood Education Professionals

The Wolf Administration is investing $1.5 million to improve the quality of early childcare education (ECE) with grants to 10 colleges and universities for career development programs.

The Preschool Development Grant will provide ECE professionals and students the opportunity to complete credit-bearing coursework towards a Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and/or Pennsylvania PreK-4 teacher certification to professionalize the field.

“It is vital that our children are being served by educators who have access to coursework and degrees grounded in the most recent research around children’s learning and development,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera. “This grant program builds on the Commonwealth’s commitment to increase the number of high-quality, effective professionals in our early childhood programs, ultimately benefiting children and families for years to come.”

The grants will allow the universities and colleges and their project partners to design specific courses related to Pennsylvania’s Learning Standards for Early Childhood Infant and Toddlers and Pre-Kindergarten; ECE subject matter focusing on infants and toddlers; and developing knowledge and skills for educating young children whose primary language is not English, are not part of the dominant culture, and children who have special needs or come from vulnerable populations.

The funding will also enable the institutions to closely align their programs with the knowledge and skills required for the ECE workforce by engaging in the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Higher Education Accreditation process.

Grant recipients include:

  • Cabrini University – $158,493. Grant funds will help redesign courses of the PreK-4 program to fully align with Pennsylvania’s Learning Standards for Early Childhood. The redesign will examine how to best assess candidates understanding and adoption of these standards and provide candidates with the skills and knowledge to offer early intervention services.
  • Chestnut Hill College – $249,998. The grant will help expand the Montessori SPARK (Strong Pathways that Achieve Readiness past Kindergarten) program, which aims to improve higher education systems, so that childcare centers are more responsive to modern family needs, specifically in high need/poverty neighborhoods and communities of color.
  • Community College of Allegheny County – $231,120. The community college will develop a consistent and holistic ECE system. This will be done through workshops and training on best practices used in the classroom and on-the-job learning enterprises, articulation agreements that will allow the ECE workforce to engage in programs and earn industry-recognized credentials.
  • Delaware County Community College – $250,000. The Higher Education Consortium is a partnership between higher education across the state to develop a statewide model for delivering associate and bachelor’s degrees in Early Childhood Education (ECE) using Apprenticeship in degree delivery.
  • Eastern University – $16,304. The grant will help develop a strong system-wide infrastructure that helps regional early childhood workforce smoothly transition from CDA to associate’s to bachelor’s degree, and to develop articulation agreements between the university and five 2-year institutions.
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania – $71,569. The grant will be used to design an infant–toddler certificate and preschool certificate for ECE professionals that focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to support children and their families. The grant will also help construct hybrid courses that combines face-to-face contact and technology-based instruction to support the needs of non-traditional students.
  • Keystone College – $250,000. Keystone, Shippensburg University and the Higher Education Consortium will collect survey data on early childhood teachers’ perspectives about learning ECE competencies and college credits on the job through apprenticeship participation.
  • Lock Haven University – $130,370. This project focuses on ECE programs in institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania. Through surveying, the inventory will provide Pennsylvania with information to establish a baseline description of the state’s early childhood higher education offerings and faculty and identify gaps and opportunities in the available offerings.
  • Reading Area Community College – $42,947. The community college will work with ECE Pathway partners to create a seamless pathway from the Career Technology Center’s Early Childhood Education program or the workforce to an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education Teaching at RACC, and finally to a Bachelor of Science in Education (BSED, PreK-4 Teacher Certification) at Kutztown University.
  • Robert Morris University – $124,883. The project will provide childcare workers with a 12-credit RMU Child Care Special Education (CCSE) Certificate that is stackable with the RMU Infant/Toddler Certificate program. Students can then progress from this certificate to a Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate, an associate degree at another university or community college, and/or a bachelor’s degree at RMU, including PreK-4 Instructional Certification.

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.