Monday, July 23, 2001

Educating day-care providers part of national effort

By Emily Biuso
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A national push to raise qualifications of child-care workers beyond a high-school education is bringing day-care employees back to the classroom.

        A federal mandate requires 50 percent of Head Start teachers to hold an associate's degree or higher by 2003 and all Head Start teachers to have a degree by 2008.

        In June, for the first time, 12 Cincinnati State Technical & Community College students graduated with a certificate in early childhood education, in addition to an associate of arts degree.

        By January 2003, students will be able to graduate from the school with an associate's degree in applied science specializing in early childhood education, said Crystal Bossard, chairwoman of Cincinnati State's early childhood education program.

        With certification as a Child Development Associate — a national credential that requires training and testing — child- care workers can earn from $2 to $4 an hour more than workers without the credential, said Sandy Owen. Mrs. Owen is a child-care coordinator at the Salvation Army and part of Cincinnati State's early childhood advisory committee.

        Child-care workers have been traditionally undervalued and underpaid, said Mrs. Owen, who has worked in child care for more than 20 years.

        “We can't raise the whole level of the profession without raising the education,” Mrs. Owen said.

        Improving the education of child-care workers helps the community, according to day-care providers.

        “It doesn't just benefit the person taking the class,” said Michelle MacDonald, who has an at-home day care in Delhi Township and has been working toward certification as a Child Development Associate. “It's going to benefit everyone who has children.”


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