Many community colleges provide some type of academic preparation in early childhood education or child development that support the professional development requirements of those who work with young children. In addition to individual courses and certificates in early childhood, numerous community colleges offer associate degree programs; many of these associate degrees include transfer options. Students pursuing these degrees may specialize in infant/toddler, preschool, family child care, or program management depending on college options. Workforce needs among early childhood education providers include training and preparation for programs such as infant/toddler, preschool and after-school care; Head Start; family child care; and center-based programs. Work settings include campus child-care, military, and employer-sponsored facilities; private homes; government agencies; franchises; public schools; and others. Early childhood education services may be offered by for-profit or not-for-profit providers.
Early childhood, birth through age eight, is an area of growing focus as states implement and refine comprehensive systems for coordinating child-care and quality rating systems, PreK-20 articulation, teacher-preparation programs, career-development systems, and federal funding opportunities. The focus on early childhood is evidenced by recent action (Spring 2014) is Strong Start for America’s Children Act.
The Strong Start for America’s Children Act recognizes the importance of early development and learning and would make a greater investment in quality of and access to early childhood education for children from birth through the preschool years. The bill focuses on expansion of home visiting, Early Head Start-child care partnerships, and preschool grants with a significant increased investment.
Link information http://www.naeyc.org/policy/federal/summary-ssfac-act
With the variety and scope of options and opportunities, providing a standard language and framework for addressing the quality of early childhood education is increasingly important.
Therefore, accreditation of early childhood education associate degree programs becomes more and more critical as community colleges continue to take the lead in the academic preparation of this growing workforce.
“Several weeks ago I received a call from an early childhood student in Memphis who wanted to enroll as an early childhood student at Vol State Community College (VSCC) (taking classes through RODP). She wanted to have her AAS from VSCC because after research, she found that VSCC was NAEYC accredited. To me, this made all of the hard work we did to get the accreditation worthwhile. The need for NAEYC accreditation is to establish a high bar for quality in early childhood programs by establishing a baseline of common standards that are the foundation of respectful and intentional care.”- Susan Brandt, Volunteer State Community College