GREENSBORO, NC Oct. 2, 2014 – Professionals who work with children ages five and under have a new professional development resource that will equip them to continue providing high-quality early childhood education.
The Guilford County Partnership for Children has awarded a Smart Start grant to UNCG’s Education, Quality Improvement and Professional Development (EQuIPD) Project. The project, which focuses on professional development for early childhood professionals, is administered through the Birth through Kindergarten Program of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies.
“Traditionally, early childhood professionals struggle to find the time and resources to get the continuing education and professional development they need,” said Deborah Cassidy, Ph.D, principal investigator for EQuIPD. “Through this program, our faculty will bring six interconnected services directly to teachers and directors in early childhood settings. Together, we’ll implement strategies we know have a direct impact on increasing the quality of early care and education.”
The six activities include:
- Creating formal professional development plans
- Peer coaching
- Training on planning appropriate learning activities for children
- Leadership training
- Improving working and learning conditions for teachers, and
- Enhancing quality of early care and education classrooms and homes.
Faculty in the Birth through Kindergarten program, housed in the UNCG School of Health and Human Sciences, will serve as advisors, consultants and trainers throughout the course of the project.
“The EQuIPD project will address a big gap in our county,” said Alice Moore, interim executive director of the Guilford County Partnership for Children. “Research shows that 90 percent of critical brain development happens in the first five years of a child’s life. We must do everything we can to ensure that all our children have high quality early childhood experiences in those first 2,000 days, and EQuIPD will help child care professionals become even more effective in delivering the care children deserve.”
The project is part of the UNCG Human Development and Family Studies Early Childhood Education Community Engagement Network (ECECCN), an innovative model of early childhood research and education based on the principle of community and university collaborative engagement. Developed by faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, the network seeks to create and support opportunities for faculty, early childhood practitioners, community members and families to collaborate with one another in order to influence policy and practice in the early childhood field.
The focus of this Community Engagement Network is to use applied research to change and enhance education, develop new training models and provide evidence to policymakers. The network also connects classroom practices and research evidence to work collaboratively with community partners to test and develop innovative, state-of-the-art intervention practices. The ECECEN continues UNCG’s role as a leader in early childhood education research and development in North Carolina and positions the department for academic leadership through such efforts nationally. The EQuIPD Project is an integral piece of the ECECE Network and will serve as a prototype for how to work collaboratively within a county and state to create true community engagement in scholarship, teaching and community service.
Mark Fine, PhD, chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, which houses the Birth through Kindergarten program, expressed his enthusiasm for the Early Childhood Education Community Engagement Network: “The network is a model for how a community-engaged university should work.”
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a challenging, supportive and engaged community where learning is carried forward to Do something bigger altogether. Founded in 1891, UNCG is the largest and most diverse university in the Triad, serving more than 18,000 students. Standing apart from other universities, the UNCG community is joined together by a shared value: We define excellence not only by the people we attract, but by the meaningful contributions they make.