Secretary of Education Susan Bunting has announced that Delaware Department of Education will work with area colleges and universities to develop an infant/toddler credential for early educators with the help of a new $500,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
"We must take steps to help more Delaware children reach kindergarten ready to learn," said Gov. John Carney. "This grant will help us support early learning professionals across our state – educators who are working with Delaware children every day. Ensuring our children are prepared to learn is critical to their future success and to our success as a state."
The credential will establish specialized online coursework in infant and toddler development and learning in Delaware that will allow the credits earned to transfer into an associate degree program down the road, Bunting said.
"Quality early education from birth to age 3 is critical for children and families," Bunting said. "Development during this period forms the basis for all future learning. Consequently, Delaware must make certain it has prepared professionals in these classrooms."
Through the grant, early learning professionals who work directly with infants and toddlers will receive education focused on quality child-teacher interactions, exposing infants and toddlers to developmentally appropriate environments, and creating learning experiences that enhance the whole child. The grant will also allow for the creation of three cohorts of students pursuing the infant/toddler credential throughout the state. Cohort members will be supported by a program manager/coach to facilitate monthly meetings and provide them with onsite, individualized coaching.
"This is a very exciting opportunity for Delaware's early childhood educators, children and families," said Kimberly Krzanowski, executive director of the Delaware Department of Education Office of Early Learning. "This grant will support the great work that already is being accomplished in high-quality early learning centers around the state and will support our long-term goals of ensuring that all children have a successful start at birth and are prepared to be successful in life."
Development of coursework and recruiting of cohort members will take place this spring for courses to begin in the fall.