HCC gets $1 million-plus boost for child care programs

  • Holyoke Community College  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/17/2020 11:17:55 AM

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Community College has received two grants totaling more than $1 million to advance its free programming for training early childhood educators.

The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care provided both of the awards: a $680,000 grant for the college’s Childhood Development Associate Plus (CDA-Plus) program, and a $360,000 StrongStart Training and Technical Assistance grant.

With child care programs already experiencing challenges such as staffing shortages and adjusting to reopening guidelines amid the pandemic, Kimm Quinlan, director of HCC’s Early Childhood Grant Initiatives, said the programming will allow child care professionals easier access to more involved roles.

“In this time of COVID, with child care facilities struggling for staff, this is one benefit for them,” Quinlan said.

The college’s CDA-Plus certificate program is targeted towards educators already working in the field and allows them to take on greater responsibilities in early childhood education settings. After earning a CDA-Plus certificate, educators may develop curriculum and lesson programs in early childhood education, in addition to previous responsibilities such as interacting with and caring for the children.

The grant funding covers all tuition, fees, books and a $425 credentialing fee, and also provides a $500 stipend for unexpected costs. The program is offered by all community colleges in Massachusetts, and HCC oversees all programming in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties as a regional partner.

The program kicked off last year, supported by a $2.4 million grant from the Department of Early Education and Care, and graduated its first group of CDA-Plus students in June. Currently, 42 students are enrolled in the program.

Credits earned as part of the six-month, two-semester program can be applied towards an associate degree in Early Childhood Education at HCC.

The StrongStart Training and Technical Assistance Grant, created by UMass Boston, provides further professional development opportunities and a focus on operating a child care program during the pandemic, covering the implementation of safety measures while also creating a high-quality learning environment that children can enjoy safely.

Additionally, StrongStart will provide for education on how students can help families feel connected and comfortable with their child care providers during the pandemic.

“We are really happy to be able to support programs through this challenging time,” Quinlan said. “It’s important work, and we’re happy that this work has found a home at HCC so that we can really support the field to the best of our ability.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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