A program launched at Oregon State University – Cascades and in partnership with Central Oregon Community College aims to increase the number of child care and early learning workers in Central Oregon. The region was identified as a ‘child care desert’ in a 2019 OSU report because of the lack of care available for children under five.
The new Early Learning Career Development Program pays full-time tuition for one year, a value of up to $12,000, for students interested in working in the child care field, provides part-time work in child care for student participants, and provides mentoring and career advising. It is open to students at OSU-Cascades and Central Oregon Community College and child care workers in the region looking for additional education to advance their careers.
Faculty experts, including OSU-Cascades Associate Professor Shannon Lipscomb and Amy Howell, a professor of early childhood education at COCC, helped develop the program, which is supported by American Rescue Plan Act funding provided by Deschutes County.
“Central Oregon families and child care operators need and deserve a sustainable source of skilled and qualified workers who can help create more child care openings and nurture our youngest children, readying them for success at home and in school,” said Kelly Sparks, associate vice president for finance and strategic planning at OSU-Cascades who convened the team that created the program.
Lipscomb, a researcher in the human development and family sciences program studies resilience and school-readiness of pre-school children and the adults who nurture their development.
“Early childhood teachers are gardeners of children’s resilience and learning. This new career development program is exciting because it opens doors for teachers to invest in their own development while also strengthening skills for developmentally appropriate, trauma informed, and culturally responsive teaching,” said Lipscomb.
The program is designed for students seeking a career in early childhood development and is especially relevant for current and incoming students in OSU-Cascades’ human development and family sciences program and COCC’s early childhood education program. It is also open to individuals working as teacher’s aides and who hope to become early learning teachers.
“The program gives participants a path to a degree and careers as early learning teachers, early support interventionists or future program directors or owners, fulfilling important and necessary roles here in Central Oregon,” said Sparks.
About OSU-Cascades: Oregon State University’s campus in Bend brings higher education to Central Oregon, the fastest growing region in the state. Surrounded by 2.5 million acres of mountains and high desert, OSU-Cascades offers small classes that accelerate faculty-student mentoring and engages in top tier research as part of Oregon State University. Degree programs meet industry and economic needs in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, natural ecosystems, health and wellness, and arts and sciences, and prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges. OSU-Cascades is expanding to serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, building a 128-acre campus with net-zero goals.