Harrisburg, PA— Governor Tom Wolf today announced that, the T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education and Compensation Helps) Early Childhood® Pennsylvania Scholarship Program will be restored after six years of inactivity and $2.4M of funding for 1,000 scholarships for early child care professionals in DHS-certified Keystone STARS programs will be made available.
“Improving early child care and education is one of my top priorities, the restoration of these scholarships is one more step in the right direction,” said Governor Wolf. “We have repeatedly heard from people working in early child care and education that they would like the opportunity to further their learning. I believe investing in those educating our young minds will help to strengthen Pennsylvania’s future workforce.”
The departments of Human Services and Education, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Child Care Association (PACCA), will administer the program. T.E.A.C.H. works with providers, colleges, and child care staff to offer scholarship programs and support systems that improve the education and compensation of child care workers. A portion of the existing funding from the Rising STARS Tuition Assistance program will transition to T.E.A.C.H. to give early childhood professionals more options to earning college credit and degrees.
The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® scholarship is a national model, implemented in 23 states including Pennsylvania. The Rising STARS Tuition Assistance program will be maintained at a lower funding level to assist individuals that are ineligible for T.E.A.C.H. and will continue to provide for tuition costs only.
“Making professional credentials and college degrees affordable and accessible to our early childhood education workforce is critical if we want to build capacity for high-quality early education services that our young children and families need,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas. “We know that recruitment and retention of qualified staff can be one of the biggest struggles for our quality child care programs. Providing the workforce with additional supports to gain credentials and degrees can alleviate some of those challenges.”
“There is concrete evidence that children who participate in early education programs see immediate and long-term benefits. They are less likely to fall behind or drop out of school and more likely to become productive, contributing members of their communities and of our highly-skilled workforce,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne said. “I am proud to see funding for T.E.A.C.H. restored so that these vital programs are ensured to have the quality professionals with the necessary education to provide our at-risk young people with the tools and guidance they need to have an opportunity to succeed in school and later in life.”
Through T.E.A.C.H. scholarships, early childhood education directors and staff may earn a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or Teacher Certification in Early Childhood Education.
“The T.E.A.C.H. scholarship model has an excellent track record of increased education, compensation, and retention in the early childhood education workforce,” said Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera. “It’s a partnership of the state, the sponsoring program, early childhood education professionals, and higher education institutions to set the professional on a path to success.”
Teachers with specialized education and experience in early childhood education have a significant impact on the quality of an early childhood education program, yet according to the Child Care Aware, the average income of child care workers in Pennsylvania is $21,010. Every T.E.A.C.H. scholarship has four key components:
• Scholarship. The scholarship covers most of the cost for tuition and books. Recipients also receive a travel stipend each semester they are enrolled in class. T.E.A.C.H. requires that the sponsoring child care program offer paid release time for the student to attend class, study, or handle personal needs. Participants are assigned a counselor to assist them in scholarship management and career development.
• Education. In one scholarship year, each participant must successfully complete a required number of credit hours toward a degree or credential in early childhood education.
• Compensation. At the end of the scholarship year, if they complete their educational requirement, participants are eligible to receive either a bonus or a raise.
• Commitment. Participants agree to continue working in their child care program for one year after each scholarship year.
The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Pennsylvania Scholarship Program awarded the first scholarships in September 1998 using private and business collaboration dollars. DHS began funding scholarships in January 1999.
Directors and staff in DHS-certified child care programs participating in Keystone STARS who meet income and work requirements are eligible to apply.
For more information and to apply, visit www.pacca.org.
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