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New Early Childhood Educator Degree, Tuition Support

New Early Childhood Educator Degree, Tuition Support

New Early Childhood Educator Degree at Parkland College

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Parkland College is launching a new early childhood education program, and area childcare workers can apply for free funding to cover tuition costs.

Students who earn Parkland's Early Childhood Education (ECE) AAS degree will now be able to transfer their credits to obtain a four-year degree, something they could not do with the college's previous Early Childhood Development degree, according to ECE Program Director Amy Chamley.

"It's a new bridge/transfer path, but the same top-notch Parkland curriculum we are well-known for,” Chamley said. "Our two-year program can prepare you for eventual work as a head teacher, assistant teacher, or director in a DCFS-licensed childcare center or home-based program."

Designed for people interested in making a positive and immediate impact on young children's growth and development, Parkland's ECE degree features supervised, hands-on instruction and professors with real-life experience in the field. Students spend time observing and working with children at Parkland’s Child Development Center and other area programs and facilities. The program's flexibility accommodates both full- and part-time students, with classes available on-campus and online; future teachers can work while they earn their degree.

Once students complete the required minimum 60 semester credits to earn their associate's degree, they can either enter the workforce as daycare or preschool workers or opt to transfer as a junior to a four-year program in early childhood education to finish a bachelor's degree and obtain their Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL). Obtaining the PEL would allow them to teach young children in Illinois public schools (birth to second grade), private elementary schools, and Head Start.

"It's training you can make fit into your life," Chamley said. "Earn the degree and start your own home daycare or become director-qualified by taking one extra course with the AAS curriculum."

Because Illinois, like the nation, is experiencing an early childhood teacher shortage, the state invites residents with childcare education experience to apply for the Illinois’ Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program to help pay for Parkland's training. The scholarship covers an academic year's worth of college credits.

Employment of childcare workers is projected to grow eight percent from 2020 to 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with an average 150,300 openings projected across the country annually.

For additional information on the Early Childhood Education Associate in Applied Science degree at Parkland, visit parkland.edu/ece.

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