Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A. | 11/2/2004 9:28:21 PM
One of the indicators of quality child care is the educational level of caregivers. Unfortunately, Louisiana child caregivers rank as some of the least-educated providers in the nation, according to LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe.
"The disparity is that research indicates that as a caregiver’s educational level increases, so does the quality of care that person provides," Gioe says. "And higher quality of care generally translates to more positive effects on a child’s development."
In response to the disparity here, Louisiana has implemented a new program called the Louisiana Pathways Child-Care Career Development System, according to Diane S. Aillet, who serves as coordinator for the program.
The statewide Louisiana Pathways program is a joint effort of the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support and Northwestern State University.
It consists of a statewide training registry database for participants, a trainer certification system for trainers, career "ladders" for caregivers and child-care administrators and scholarships to help child-care professionals achieve their career goals.
"One of the major objectives of this program is that it has been designed to help improve the quality of child care in Louisiana through the recognition and training of child-care professionals," Aillet explains.
Participation in the program is voluntary, but once a child-care professional has registered with Pathways, his or her professional development is tracked by computer, according to Aillet.
"Individuals receive encouragement through incentives and recognition as they progress on the career ladders," the program coordinator says. "As child-care professionals enroll in the registry, Louisiana Pathways will help track their training hours, which will help ensure that the children in Louisiana will have caregivers who are prepared to work effectively with children.
"By raising the providers’ perception of the importance of their work as a career, providers also will receive greater satisfaction from their work."
The scholarship component of the Pathways program is designed to provide child-care professionals with financial assistance for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential assessment fee, family child-care accreditation, administrative training through the Small Business Development Centers and college courses in early childhood education and child development.
"There are a number of scholarships available, so that most who apply and meet the scholarship requirements receive assistance," Aillet says, adding, "Scholarship requirements have been developed to meet the needs of the individuals in Louisiana."
The following are some of the scholarships available, according to Gioe and Aillet:
–Administrative training scholarships
–College tuition assistance scholarships
–Home and center accreditation scholarships
Since the inception of Louisiana Pathways, more than 3,000 individuals from all parishes in Louisiana have enrolled in the registry. To date, over 500 scholarships have been awarded.
For more information on the Louisiana Pathways program, contact: Diane S. Aillet, Louisiana Pathways career development coordinator, 1800 Warrington Place, Shreveport, La. 71101-4425. You also can phone Aillet at (318) 677-3167 or visit http://pathways.louisiana.gov.
The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.