“Child Development Assistant” Certification Opens Doors for Families in Need
PHOENIX, Arizona (April 5, 2016) — They came to Educare Arizona looking for the best childcare for their young children. But they ended up with so much more.
Educare Arizona’s mission is to provide the highest quality early childhood education to children and families in need — with almost 1,000 Phoenix children served over the past five years. With its emphasis on the best care possible for children ranging from six months to five years, the impact it is having is extraordinary.
But it’s one of the benefits of the program that is making such a difference in the lives of families in central Phoenix. Educare Arizona is also a hub for training educators in early childhood education — its small class sizes and high teacher-to-student ratios means that each class has at least three teachers in the classroom, and sometimes up to five including the teaching candidates and interns. That’s almost unheard of in childcare facilities.
One of the ways Educare Arizona is able to meet its staffing and teaching needs is by training eager individuals for the Child Development Assistant certification, which creates a career path in early childhood education for teachers. To date, 149 people have gone through CDA training at Educare Arizona, and 129 of those are now working in early childhood education.
And perhaps the best part? Of those 149 teachers, 38 were parents of students at Educare Arizona, who found not only the best child care for their kids, but a pathway to a new career that would not have existed for them otherwise.
“There is truly nothing like the CDA program at Educare Arizona, which is already having an extraordinarily positive impact on the community it serves,” said Lisa Fernandez, Chief Development Officer for Educare Arizona. “It’s a 30-week program guided by an experienced mentor, and it’s the equivalent to a program that would take two years at the community college level. We’ve had a 99 percent success rate in helping teachers earn their CDA certification, which is remarkable.”
Nine of the 38 CDA recipients who are parents of Educare Arizona students are currently working within the walls of the facility. Twenty-one of those CDA recipients are working at other early childhood centers throughout the community.
One of the CDA recipients working at Educare Arizona is Esmeralda Retana. She said the training she received changed her life.
“Not only did I gain experience, but I am working toward my Associates in Elementary Education,” she said. “Thanks to the patience and dedication of those involved with this program, my family is getting a better life. They helped me find a passion in teaching and an opportunity to go back and get a degree that will provide a better future.”
The teachers at Educare Arizona are offered tuition assistance if they want to pursue their bachelor’s or master’s degrees. Both ASU and Phoenix College have programs through Educare Arizona where their students can gain valuable experience in early childhood education.
Educare Arizona’s teacher training programs have been so successful that they are being shared with other Educare facilities across the country, something that comes as no surprise to Retana.
“Just the fact of thinking about going back to school scared me, not only because it had been so long since I had been in school, but because I have two children that take up my time,” she said. “But the people at Educare Arizona believed I could do it. I am more than thankful for this program. I wish I could have known about this before, but now is the time – MY TIME – to shine, to show the world that I can do better, because I am better.”
The programmatic training at Educare Arizona is provided by Southwest Human Development, one of the leading providers of early childhood education in the country.
“It’s gratifying to be here every day and see how these professionals are growing and developing into their careers,” Fernandez said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for people in the community to brighten their future and enter into a truly rewarding field.”
Those interested in learning more about the CDA program may contact Lisa Fernandez at Educare Arizona at 602.845.4150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.