The Florida Department of Education’s Division of Early Learning has approved a Preschool Development Grant (PDG) in the amount of $524,212.50 to The Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Inc. (PHELC). The PDG is a federal grant that builds on current federal, state, and local early childcare and learning investments to improve states’ early childhood systems. The PDG grant funds will be utilized to provide free tuition for the Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship Project, which is conducted in conjunction with Marchman Technical College, to preschool instructors in Pasco and Hernando counties.
There is a tremendous need for educated early learning teachers to work in private childcare classrooms in Pasco County and the surrounding areas. Childcare centers are struggling to fill positions with teachers that have the skillset to provide quality educational opportunities for the vulnerable birth to age five population. Furthermore, COVID has resulted in a teacher shortage, putting childcare providers in a position where they must turn away children due to a lack of qualified candidates. Dr. Steve Knobl, Pasco and Hernando Early Learning Coalition Executive Director stated, “We are excited to collaborate with the Pasco School System to pilot this program for the State of Florida. We have a crisis in the early childhood field. Many of our early learning businesses are struggling to find qualified teachers and staff to educate our youngest learners. These shortages, coupled with wage and workforce challenges prompted this exciting collaboration with the Pasco County School System.”
Through the existing Marchman Technical College Early Childhood Education–APPR program, students receive a Child Care Apprenticeship Certificate and Child Development Associate Equivalency CDA(e) upon completion of all program components. The purpose of the Apprenticeship program is to upskill the early education workforce and place licensed teachers in classrooms to prepare and provide high-quality learning experiences to children before they enter Kindergarten. There are two options: one for existing teachers, and a 600-hour course for future teachers who are not yet employed.
Apprenticeship program books, classroom materials, and stipends for students and center directors, as well as bonus incentives for journey workers are all covered by the grant. Journey Workers have their CDA/Staff Credential and currently work in early learning businesses. These individuals will mentor new Apprentices, support them to stay with the childcare provider, and guide new employees that enroll in the program. The pilot will run through December 2022. The Division of Early Learning plans to support the continuation of the program beyond December 2022.
About the Coalition: The Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties, Inc. is a 501c3 organization and one of 30 Early Learning
Coalitions in Florida. Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program is for all children who are four-years old on or before September 1.
School Readiness provides subsidized childcare for low-to-moderate income working families. The Coalition serves 12,000 children between infancy and twelve-years old, working with more than 300 providers in both counties.
About Marchman Technical College: Fred K. Marchman Technical College (MTC) has been offering academic and technical training to the Pasco County community and surrounding areas since 1984. MTC is located in New Port Richey, Florida. The school has over 170,000 square feet of classroom and workshop space distributed over 15 buildings, encompassing 25 acres. Marchman Technical College provides education and training needed to reach students’ academic and professional goals. MTC currently offers 13 technical training programs. Our program instructors bring real world experience to the classroom. Each program has an advisory board composed of local area business partners that guide our instructors. As a result, students have a competitive edge in specific career fields. MTC also offers several Adult Education Programs including GED, ESOL, and Adults With Disabilities. These courses are designed to enhance your skills in order to transition into post-secondary and/or career pathways.