Grant Funds New Child Care Alliance to Address Critical IssuesPosted on August 14, 2018
Johnstown, PA (August 13, 2018) –One of the keys to providing quality early learning programs is to attract and retain quality staff. However, turnover in the child care industry is high. The National Association for the Education of Young Children reports that nearly one-third or 30% of early childhood workers in the U.S. quit annually. Talk to any child care program director, and he or she will likely tell you that finding and retaining staff is a top concern.
Now, members of a newly formed Early Care and Education Shared Services Alliance are recruiting staff and addressing other common issues together with the help of a grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). A group including The Learning Lamp, Richland Academy, Little Red Schoolhouse, and Children’s Express Child Care in Cambria County and Trinity Lutheran Child Care Program, YWCA Kuddle Korner Day Care, and ABC Review Preschool in Somerset County, was one of only four statewide to be awarded a Shared Services pilot grant. The Tuscarora Intermediate Unit (TIU), on behalf of OCDEL, received funding from The Heinz Endowments to administer the grant which supports 19 months of planning and program implementations for The Learning Lamp, Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV, Northwest Institute of Research, and Trying Together.
“The Learning Lamp will serve as the hub for our project. Together, as child care providers, we’ll work to address our biggest challenges, including hiring, behavior management, and other areas as they arise. It’s a unique concept. Groups that used to consider themselves competitors are now working jointly to problem solve,” said Leah Spangler, Ed.D., CEO of The Learning Lamp.
Shared Services is a management framework that enables center- and home-based early childhood education providers to reduce costs, access personnel and administrative supports through shared capacity, and enhance quality of care by reinvesting savings in comprehensive professional development and improved compensation to attract and retain quality staff.
“The national model of Shared Services gives smaller, standalone providers access to economies of scale and specialized expertise that are more typically only experienced by individual sites within a multi-site provider,” explained Amy Friedlander, project consultant with the TIU. “Shared Services is incentivized as a strategy for quality providers within the new Keystone STARS standards and can also be used to support OCDEL’s priorities around reduced suspension and expulsion.”
One of the local Alliance’s first steps was to hire a part-time recruiter/coordinator that met individually with Alliance members to assess each one’s business and program needs. Filling staffing vacancies and creating a pool of qualified substitutes topped the list. Other shared services to be piloted include a Human Resources Hotline to assist members with labor laws and other HR concerns, joint fundraising opportunities, professional development, and on-site staff coaching to better manage children with challenging and disruptive behaviors.
“The Alliance is currently made up of seven distinct child care providers that bring a combined 127 years of caring for and educating young children to this initiative,” explained Stephanie Wilt, Shared Services coordinator at The Learning Lamp. “Despite our differences in number of children served, staff size or where we’re located, Alliance members share a common goal—to improve the quality of care for children by becoming more efficient and effective in what we do.”
Other related services include a proposed Early Childhood Education apprenticeship program that will offer paid tuition and on-the-job training for staff that want to pursue a Child Development Associate credential or associate’s degree in early childhood education or child development. The Alliance is open to additional members in Cambria and Somerset counties. The Shared Services start-up grant runs through 2019. For more information, call Stephanie at 814-262-0732 extension 248 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Learning Lamp is a nonprofit organization with a mission to engage all children in the support they need to succeed. We deliver high quality programs that are affordable and accessible to families of all income levels. The Learning Lamp served 37,197 children and adults from 52 school districts and 71 non-public and private schools and other organizations in 19 Pennsylvania counties in 2017.
Our programs include: one-to-one tutoring; before/after school programs; portable classrooms aimed at building math and science skills; alternative education programs for at-risk students; evidence-based prevention programs; online learning and credit recovery; SAT preparation; educationally-focused child care; literacy-based preschool programs; and grant writing and project consulting for schools.