Daily News

STCC Wins State Career Pathways Grant for Early-childhood Education

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) will apply a $296,904 state grant to support a new, affordable professional-development program for early-childhood educators.

The funding will allow STCC to roll out its Child Development Associate Plus program this fall. The program will help early-childhood educators obtain certification and become better-qualified to teach infants and toddlers as well as preschool-aged children.

STCC announced in July that the college received the Early Childhood Education Career Pathways Grant, funded through the state Department of Early Education and Care.

Those who may be interested in the program include center-based teachers, family childcare providers, and other early-care professionals who are working toward becoming qualified teachers of young children.

“A lot of early-childhood educators have been teaching for a long time without having any college credit,” said Richard Greco, dean of Liberal and Professional Studies at STCC. “What this program will allow is for people to get a nationally recognized credential. With the credential, they will earn college credit that they can apply toward an associate degree from STCC.”

Added Nancy Ware, STCC’s Early Education and Care Pathways Grant and Activity director, “this program hopefully will increase teacher qualifications. An industry assessment found there was a need for qualified teachers at the early-childhood level, which extends from birth to 5 years old.”

Greco and Ward said students who earn the CDA Plus credential could see higher wages. Typically, early-childhood educators without any college credit or credentials take home lower-than-average salaries.

The Career Pathways Grant provides a range of support for students in the program at STCC. Funding will pay for a new bilingual position, Early Childhood Education liaison. The person hired for the job will work closely with early-childhood students and will be able to speak Spanish and English.

“The liaison will recruit and help them get through the admissions process,” Greco said. “The individual will help them obtain applications and their transcripts and will assist with financial aid. The process can be daunting at times.”

Additionally, the grant will be used to update an old computer lab. Students will have use of the state-of-the-art lab with access to wireless hotspots and computers to borrow if they don’t have one at home.

Classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings, and the program is estimated to take one year to complete. Students can come to STCC on Wednesday night for tutoring or to meet with the liaison for support. Students who need extra support in math and English can take a free one-week boot camp prior to the start of the fall semester.

STCC also will offer a prior learning credit, which means anyone who already has earned a CDA from another institution may qualify for college credit from STCC.