Colleges at Center of Push for Higher Standards in Early Childhood Ed

By Paul Bradley
Editor
Community College Week
They have been called our most precious resources — young children, infants and toddlers, pre-schoolers and kindergartners, ever precocious and curious. Yet for the last four decades, as women have flooded into the workforce, creating a demand for quality daycare and pre-school programs, they have seldom been treated that way by policymakers… Read more

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One Response to Colleges at Center of Push for Higher Standards in Early Childhood Ed

  1. Deb Pierce says:

    At many community colleges, students are provided the opportunity to take courses toward the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential. This entry-level credential is a great segue to further education and in fact, the majority of students who earn it go on for their Associate degree. The trouble is, many community colleges don’t take these students through to the end of the CDA process. CDA candidates can be in a tough spot. Sure, they’ve had some quality training with us in the classroom and online, and many are seasoned care providers. But now that they are finished with their required clock hours, they are often faced with the rest of the CDA process, and sometimes it’s on their own.
    At Ivy Tech, we provide a fourth course, The CDA Process, to help our students finish what the Council requires: the Professional Resource File, the 6 Competency Goal Statements, the formal observation, and preparation for the Verification Visit. Every semester, without fail, I have the majority of my class express their appreciation for such a course, because “How would we ever have done this on our own?”
    At first glance, it may appear that we are participating in some sort of “enabling” and that these students should certainly be able to see this process to its conclusion without our help. In fact, this is what I heard from the Council’s Deputy Director in a phone conversation three years ago when I was seeking her blessing to write my book, The CDA Prep Guide.
    However, as instructors who work with our CDA students on a daily basis and who have taken a look at the materials the Council provides as the only source of reference for this process… we know better. Instructions are brief, generalized, and sometimes downright confusing. This is ironic, since the Council has very specific parameters for scoring a candidate’s documentation and if the CDA is denied, no specific feedback is provided so that the candidate can make the necessary improvements to succeed. This is even more ironic in light of a common statement from Council personnel: “We want to see that candidates are successful.” Hmm.
    In that same conversation with the Deputy Director, I literally had to explain what was going on in the real world of the CDA candidate. I told her how many expressions of frustration I was reading on provider listservs, blogs, and emails I was receiving. What’s more, I was also hearing about providers who had given up on finishing and were either taking their family child care program underground or leaving the profession. I told her that neither of these outcomes was acceptable and both meant children would lose their early care and education provider. This got her attention and my book got its blessing.
    I know that many of our community colleges provide this last CDA piece for their students, but some still do not. I contend it is well worth the time and effort to see students getting through the entire CDA process successfully. If they aren’t successful in earning this credential, the likelihood of continuing on for a degree is stifled.
    I have hosted a website dedicated to the success of CDA candidates since 1998 and started sending out free, self-published pamphlets to help them navigate the uncharted waters. As time went on, I was overwhelmed with pleas for help and decided it was about time for me to write the manual for this credential!
    Since then, I continue to provide free help on my website blog and through email. I also make other types of assistance available, such as instructional DVDs and ready-to-load CDA binders, after receiving countless requests for these items. In addition, I conduct train-the-trainer workshops across the country, as well as webinars.
    Here is one you may find interesting as well as helpful for your students:
    June 29 7-8 PM (CST) “Fearless! Facing Your CDA Verification Visit with Confidence.”
    Register at this link:
    http://www.redleafpress.org/client/client_pages/webinars/rl_webinars.html
    I also invite you to visit my website at easycda.com and to contact me anytime if you have questions. Let me know if you would like to see a copy of The CDA Prep Guide to consider using with your students.
    Supporting the CDA candidate is an important piece in the quest for higher standards in early childhood education.
    Deb Pierce
    Professor
    Early Childhood Education
    School of Education
    Ivy Tech Community College-Central Indiana
    50 W. Fall Creek Pkwy. North Dr.
    Indianapolis, IN 46208-5752
    Phone: 317-508-5049
    dpierce@ivytech.edu
    http://www.ivytech.edu/indianapolis

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