Niagara University's College of Education has received state approval to offer a bachelor's degree program in early childhood development and cognition. The B.A. program is intended to provide graduates with the skills necessary to assume leadership positions when working with young children in child care centers and human service agencies that provide or coordinate services for young children in the community.
Applications are now being accepted for the fall.
"There is a growing need in our country to prepare a cutting-edge, sustainable workforce that will provide high-quality of care for young children and coordinate and integrate the complex array of services that are needed to enhance early cognitive and psychological development," said Dr. Debra Colley, dean of NU's College of Education. "This can be seen in the recent proliferation of both federal- and state-funded legislation focused on the birth through age 5 population."
New York state recently implemented QUALITYstarsNY, a project of the Early Childhood Advisory Council that is funded in part through the State Education Department's Federal Race to the Top grant, which seeks to enhance the quality of child care environments. The state has also published guidelines on early learning and prekindergarten standards. It is through partnerships with business and community child care providers that the need for an educated, knowledgeable and skilled workforce became apparent, as did the need to sustain these child care professionals, provide career ladder programs of education, and address issues of succession planning.
The U.S. Department of Labor's website states employment of preschool and childcare center directors is projected to grow 17 percent from 2012-22, faster than the average for all occupations. Continued demand for preschool programs and child care is expected to contribute to growth.
NU's 121-credit program will combine knowledge of early learning and cognitive development; family, school and community relationships; observation, documentation and assessment of young children; resources and materials to enhance early cognitive, emotional and physical development; leadership and professionalism; and managing early child care programs, including basic knowledge in program planning and evaluation, and human and financial resources.
The program's curriculum was initially developed by a team of faculty in the department of early childhood and childhood education who have expertise in the field. College administrators also consulted with child care centers representatives who participate in the university's Niagara County Early Child Care Quality Improvement Project, as well as professors from Niagara County Community College.
NU's College of Education holds National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education accreditation in the U.S., Ministerial Consent through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in the Province of Ontario, and accreditation through the Ontario College of Teachers. NU has had a strong presence in Ontario, Canada, for the past four decades, educating Canadian students both on its New York campus and at various sites in the greater Toronto region of Canada.
For more information, call 716-286-8560 or visit www.niagara.edu/education.