Indiana Wesleyan University is staying ahead of demand in the field of early childhood education. This is a field with growing opportunities for those with degrees, and IWU’s online program offers a flexibility that is necessary for adult students. The A.S. in Early Childhood Education is meant to prepare adults to meet the physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and affective needs of children from their birth to age eight. The program is structured for online delivery and will take approximately 2.5 years to complete, with 63 credit hours required. Students will learn to promote child development and learning, use developmentally effective approaches, build meaningful curriculum, and more.
Current legislation in Indiana could lead to an intensified need for this type of program. Earlier this month (March 4, 2014), the Indiana Senate passed House Bill 1036, Child Care Development Fund Eligibility. Among other things, this bill specifies health, education, safety and training requirements that a child care provider must meet in order to receive a federal Child Care and Development Fund voucher payment. The training a student will learn in the A.S. in Early Childhood Education program will help ensure child care providers employ people who meet the guidelines.
With this base knowledge on the climate of early childhood care, we had a few deeper questions on who this program will benefit and exactly how it will help. We took our questions to the front line, to a person who helped draft the business plan for this program at IWU, Dr. Karen Dowling.
Q: Who will enroll in this program?
A: This program is for anyone interested in earning an associate degree and a desire to work with infants, toddlers and young children. These are people who are looking to begin working in this field as well as those who already work in child care. Potential students include daycare workers, Head Start employees, home childcare providers, and ministries.
Q: What will this degree program allow people to do for their career?
A: Those who complete the A.S. in Early Childhood Education will have the ability to take national testing for the Child Development Associate credential (CDA), become qualified childcare workers, get involved with early childhood program administration, continue on to get a B.S. degree and obtain a P-3 teaching license.
Q: What type of jobs and facilities can graduates of this program work in?
A: With proper credentials, those interested in furthering their careers in childcare, P-3 education, certification for ministries and home childcare will have qualifications such as knowledge of child growth and development, program administration, nutrition, health and safety, and literacy and other critical content curriculum and instruction.
Q: Is there a large demand for workers who have the skills learned in this degree?
A: There is a growing need for preschool teachers in Indiana and nationally. According to the Occupational Health Handbook (2012-2013), employment for preschool teachers is expected to increase by 25% between 2010 and 2020, and that means there will be an estimated 113,600 more preschool teaching jobs in 2020 than there were in 2010. This increase in demand stems from the increased need for quality, out-of-home childcare for working families. In addition, there is also growing recognition of the importance of educational experiences during the early years of a child’s life.
Q: Is there a large number of people seeking this degree that are maybe underserved?
A: Indiana is not over saturated with schools offering this degree program. Indiana Wesleyan University is the second private university in the state of Indiana to offer an online associate’s degree in early childhood education, and the school is the only major online institution in Indiana offering this degree. In addition, the Spanish speaking population in Indiana has been underserved in this field. Indiana Wesleyan University is leaning toward offering this A.S. degree program in Spanish in order to help the Hispanic community interested in P-3 education.
Early Childhood Education is an exciting program with plenty of career opportunities for those who are interested in working with young children. IWU’s program is different from the rest in that it provides students with the support of the cohort model, integrates faith with learning, and it is available to adult learners who are not located near a campus. For more information on this online program that works for your schedule, request more information from the school.