Lock Haven University is among four institutions of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) that have secured $5.9 million in federal funds to aid in the professional development of early child care workers. The other institutions are East Stroudsburg, Shippensburg, and Edinboro Universities.
While many early childhood education programs focus on education in the early grades, this grant mostly focuses on child care workers who care for children birth to age five.
LHU early childhood education professor, Dr. Betsy Manlove, worked with counterparts from the three other universities to submit a grant proposal that would offer child care providers needed opportunities for credit-bearing professional development. These opportunities may lead to certificates and degrees, strengthening the early childhood field.
“My PASSHE colleagues and I are collaborating to build sustainable pathways so that people who work in child care can get college credit to increase their skills and competencies on the job,” Manlove said.
The grant funds were obtained through the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) under the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services. The four universities are now engaged in development of a work plan for the project which will be submitted to OCDEL for approval before implementing the plan.
“There is a broad consensus that high quality child care has long lasting benefits for children, particularly for those who are most vulnerable,” Manlove said. “Current estimates are that less than 39% of those working in child care centers have a relevant credential or degree of any sort. The goal under this grant is to increase that to 65% by 2025.”
Of the $5.9 million, $1.7 million will come to LHU and will be used to develop and disseminate coursework and provide tuition assistance to those taking the courses.
“Lock Haven University has a decades-long history of offering a degree in early childhood education that prepares graduates to engage in teaching practices that are developmentally appropriate for young children,” Manlove said. “This grant builds on that long tradition.”
According to Manlove, the grant is not designed for traditional students, but focuses on those who already are working in child care programs within the state. Because of this, it is expected to bring new students to LHU. The grant will initially focus on those who do not yet have any college credit but will expand over time to support students in pursuing associate and bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education.
“The ultimate goal of this project is to increase the quality of child care for children, by increasing the skills and competencies of their teachers,” Manlove said. “And that’s a win-win for everybody, because we know when children do well in child care, they’re going to arrive at school ready to learn.”