Helping early childhood teachers climb the ladder

Editor's Note: One of our goals with "Little Citizens, Big Issues" is to showcase diverse voices and viewpoints from the community on issues affecting young children in the District. This post is by Lauren Hogan, director of public policy at the National Black Child Development Institute (NBDCI). 

In September, we had the pleasure of announcing that T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood was coming to D.C.  In only 8 months, we have awarded 302 scholarships to early childhood professionals serving children from birth to five in the District.  With support from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Division of Early Childhood, and many fantastic community and university partners, these scholarships are helping our early childhood workforce climb the ladder of higher education and provide higher-quality care. 
 
T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps) Early Childhood is a highly successful national model that operates in 23 states and D.C. It provides comprehensive scholarships that address a wide range of needs and strengths, while focusing on the outcomes of increased compensation and retention. Research confirms that increased educational attainment, higher compensation and lower turnover among teachers leads to improved program quality – and improved school readiness for our youngest children. It’s “evidence-based,” but it also just makes sense, doesn’t it?
 
I love hearing from partners such as Tannetta Merritt, director of the Southeast Children’s Fund Child Development Center in Ward 8, where T.E.A.C.H. has provided scholarships to 10 teachers. She says T.E.A.CH.  has "given hope to those who thought they would never be able to afford school” and suggests a new twist on the acronym -- “T.E.A.C.H. is taking Teachers, Educators, Advocates & Children Higher!” Tannetta, I love it!
 
So far, T.E.A.C.H. has provided 302 scholarships to teachers in the District, including:  
- 223 scholarships to support the entry-level Child Development Associate (CDA) credential
- 75 scholarships for an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood/Child Development
- 4 scholarships for a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood/Child Development
 
The T.E.A.C.H. recipients, including 206 infant and toddler teachers, come from 85 licensed child care centers and seven family child care homes, 60 percent of which are located in Wards 1, 7 and 8. As of this month, recipients have completed 153 classes, maintaining an average GPA of 3.11 at one of eight area colleges.  
 
I cannot stress enough how proud we are of all our T.E.A.C.H. recipients. They are working hard to create a better life for themselves and for the children in their care. Of course, we could not make T.E.A.C.H. a success without the support of our partners who share our vision for a strong and supported early childhood workforce. We’re just learned that NBCDI will receive a grant from the Early Care and Education Funders Collaborative of Washington Area Women’s Foundation to support T.E.A.C.H., and we are absolutely thrilled and grateful. 

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood DC is now accepting applications for the fall 2011 semester. If you're interested in pursuing your Associates or Bachelors degree at a metro-area college or university please give our Outreach Coordinator a call at 202-552-6082 or download a T.E.A.C.H. application from our webpage at www.teach.nbcdi.org.  

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