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Black voters in battleground states are a crucial voting bloc in 2024; Nikki Haley says she's voting for Trump in November; healthcare advocates suggest medical collaboration to treat fibroids; distinct vibes at IU Indianapolis pro-Palestinian protest.

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The House GOP moves to strike mention of Trump's criminal trial from the record, and his former rival Nikki Haley endorses him. Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans reject a legislative fix to ensure Biden's name appears on the November ballot.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Program gives AR early education workers 'Career Pathways'

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Friday, April 19, 2024   

The need for child care and early learning is critical, especially in rural Arkansas. One nonprofit is working to fill those gaps by giving providers a chance to get more education.

The Career Pathways Program with Save the Children partners with universities to grow the workforce of child care and preschool providers.

Joyce Taylor, Eastern Arkansas parent-family community engagement coordinator for Save the Children, had more than 20 years' experience with Head Start and said the program gave her the opportunity to pursue a bachelor's degree. It also provides her with resources she can use, in the classroom and with families.

"In particular, we have a family with a child that is autistic," Taylor noted. "Mom is working with the child at home. So I have things that I can share with that family, so she can continue to work with her child."

More than 153,000 openings for child care workers are projected over the next decade, largely driven by the need to replace those who have left the field or retired, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Taylor pointed out some children have challenging behaviors, and may have a lot of things going on at home. It is her job to help them thrive in preschool.

"Because we're the first start, when they come into Head Start, that's their first opportunity to be in a learning environment," Taylor explained. "It's up to us to do everything that we can do, to help make that first experience successful."

Karen Harrison, managing director of career in education workforce development for Save the Children, said rural areas have access to fewer resources compared to urban areas, so the program focuses on addressing the specific gaps in rural communities. She added the Pathways program aims to reduce barriers to obtaining a higher-ed credential or degree.

"All of our pathways come with incentives," Harrison emphasized. "We either pay all or partial of their tuition; we pay stipends, for books, supplies and materials. We also give 'barrier reduction' stipends. We know that child care for participants themselves can be an issue; transportation, technology needs."

Harrison added the pathway begins with a Child Development Associate credential, followed by an associate degree, and ultimately a bachelor's degree. In the process, they improve the career opportunities for workers, as well as the quality of early learning.

Disclosure: Save the Children contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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