At St. Petersburg College’s Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, June 16, officials from SPC and the Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County announced a new partnership to strengthen training for early childcare professionals and better prepare young learners.
Officials with SPC’s College of Education and the SPC Foundation worked with the Juvenile Welfare Board (JWB) to develop the partnership, in which JWB is providing $54,000 to fund 30 scholarships for students to earn certificates through the college’s Early Childhood Education program. The intent is to improve school readiness rates and close achievement gaps by preparing local childcare workers to provide high quality early childhood education.
“This is an excellent opportunity and excellent demonstration of partnerships that we have going,” said Dr. Marcie Biddleman, Executive Director, Juvenile Welfare Board. “It’s special because it’s St Petersburg College. We have a lot of children in our early learning programs, and they will not get to St Petersburg College for their education if we can’t get them started right. Hopefully this will be a continuation of educated citizens that will make a difference here in Pinellas County.”
Scholarships will be available for childcare workers currently working 20 hours or more in licensed early childcare centers (residential or commercial) in Pinellas County (as identified by JWB). The scholarships will fund up to 12 credit hours for classes taken on the Clearwater Campus, to prepare the students toward a certificate in early childcare development, with specializations in Infants and Toddlers or Preschool. Both 12-hour certificates can be counted toward SPC’s Early Childhood Education A.S. degree.
“The benefits and the value of this partnership will extend far beyond the student recipients, as they go back to their workplace and better prepare our earliest learners,” said Frances Neu, Executive Director, SPC Foundation. “Then we’ll see the real benefits,” she said.
Former SPC Associate Provost Maria Edmonds, who now chairs the Juvenile Welfare Board, called the agreement her dream.
“It is my pleasure that we have this collaboration,” Edmonds said. “We need more of these partnerships in our community. One individual or one organization alone cannot do it, but together we can do a lot.”