New Jersey's First Infant/Toddler Credential Program Supported by Grant to Rutgers-Camden Research Center

New Jersey's First Infant/Toddler Credential Program Supported by Grant to Rutgers-Camden Research Center

For Immediate Release

CAMDEN The Rutgers-Camden Center for Children and Childhood Studies has received a two-year, $473,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation to deliver a comprehensive schedule of professional training for childcare providers in community centers throughout the City of Camden.

The grant also will allow the Rutgers-Camden Center for Children and Childhood Studies efforts to introduce the first Infant/Toddler Credential to New Jersey through pilot programs in Camden, Hudson, and Essex counties during 2006-07.

Through the Camden Professional Development Pathways Initiative at Rutgers-Camden, the William Penn Foundation grant will allow Rutgers-Camden to deliver training to childcare professionals who otherwise would not have the opportunity to improve the quality of their curriculum and their childcare centers.

The Rutgers-Camden initiative includes a program to prepare non-traditional students who wish to attend college; a concentration in mentorship development; the creation of cluster groups within the childcare community to facilitate training, mentoring and technical advisement; and the citys first-ever training and advisement program for family childcare providers.

Participants develop the skills necessary to create a child-based and literacy-rich learning environment, while helping families to promote ongoing student achievement. Child-care providers in the Rutgers program also are encouraged to obtain higher levels of professional development.

The Infant/Toddler Credential offers New Jerseys first state-recognized specialization in infant and toddler care in the early care and education field. The credential is endorsed as an important advancement by national organizations such as Zero to Three and the Better Baby Care Campaign.

This groundbreaking initiative, in partnership with the New Jersey Professional Development Center, begins with a training session for trainers in October. The first cohort of childcare professionals attending the Infant/Toddler Credential courses will begin in January 2007.

To date, the Rutgers-Camden center has enrolled 302 child-care providers from 48 Camden centers. One hundred and seventy-six of those participants have earned their credentials as child development associates.

Moreover, 1,440 Camden parents have been engaged through this project. Eighty-six of those Camden citizens participated in adult literacy programs, and 41 enrolled in a GED program.

The Rutgers-Camden program has helped 32 Camden childcare centers to establish parent engagement programs.

This engagement with our host city is indicative of Rutgers commitment to advancing the lives of citizens across New Jersey, says Margaret Marsh, dean of the Rutgers-Camden Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The Center for Children and Childhood Studies at Rutgers-Camden is a national leader in bringing a multidisciplinary approach to resolving the challenges facing our children. Through such innovative service programs as the Camden Professional Development Pathways Initiative, and through world-class educational programs such as our doctoral program in childhood studies, Rutgers-Camden is serving children and families in our region, our state, and the nation.

In 2000, the Rutgers-Camden Center for Children and Childhood Studies launched a community needs assessment to identify significant gaps in services for Camden children aged birth to five. The area of early education (childcare services) and professional development opportunities for childcare professionals surfaced as an area where the demands outweighed services, support and resources.

The Rutgers-Camden scholarly center then conducted a professional development survey of childcare staff within the citys 62 licensed childcare providers and found that, among the 782 childcare professionals, 406 had only a high school diploma; 134 had a child development associate credential; 59 had an associates degree; and 160 had a bachelors degree or above.

The numbers suggest that Camdens children were receiving the largest percentage of direct care from individuals who required additional training to provide the necessary learning environment.

The Camden Professional Development Pathways Initiative has been the recipient of additional major funding including the City of Camden, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Schumann Fund for New Jersey.

Angela Connor-Morris, a senior program director at the Rutgers-Camden Center for Children and Childhood Studies, created the Camden Professional Development Pathways Initiative at Rutgers-Camden. For more information, contact Connor-Morris at (856) 225-2305.

The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that foster rich cultural expression, strengthen childrens futures and deepen connections to nature and community. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance a vital, just and caring community.

The Center for Children and Childhood Studies at Rutgers-Camden promotes the understanding, enrichment, and recognition of the significance of the experiences of childhood.