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Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s (GPTC) Adult Education Division provides high school equivalency (HSE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes to the community, serving approximately 3,000 adult students annually. In addition, GPTC offers several career pathway options, including a Child Development Associate (CDA) program tailored to immigrant and refugee students. The program was developed in response to a community need for more multilingual employees in early childhood care centers. 

In this Article:

  1. Purpose for the Program
  2. Key to the Success of the Program
  3. Key Actors and Participants
  4. Impact and Outcomes
  5. Implementation Steps
  6. Challenges Faced
  7. Resources and Partnerships
  8. Looking to the Future
  9. Contact and Additional Resources

1. Purpose for the Program

Local partners and Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning identified a need in our community to improve the educational services offered to young children. Being a refugee resettlement area with four agencies working nearby, the local community of Clarkston, Georgia is 49% foreign-born with a wide range of languages spoken. Many children in the childcare centers speak languages other than English, including Dari, Pashto, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Karen, and Amharic. However, there are not enough employees in the centers who also speak these languages. In order to address this problem and provide employees who can communicate with and teach children in their native languages, GPTC developed a CDA program tailored specifically to immigrants and refugees wanting to serve the children in their community. Immigrant students from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds were recruited, and the program equips them with the skills and credentials needed to teach young children from the same or similar backgrounds.

2. Key to the Success of the Program

GPTC’s approach is unique in how it customizes instruction to immigrants and refugees while also addressing a community need. While most career pathway programs are run in collaboration with other departments within the college, GPTC hired an instructor who could work internally to better guide the customization of the course design and instruction. The program also provides transportation and childcare stipends for participants to help decrease barriers to participation.

3. Key Actors and Participants

To make this program possible, GPTC’s Adult Education Division hired an instructor with expertise in early childhood care and education and experience working with immigrants and multilingual speakers of English. This instructor designed the course, teaches students, and networks with local early childcare providers to establish practicum sites for students. These local childcare centers are key partners that both provide letters of support for the program and serve as practicum sites for students. Populations eligible for the program are all immigrant and refugee students served in GPTC’s ESL and HSE classes who are at an intermediate or higher level of English proficiency.

5. Impact and Outcomes

GPTC is concluding the first cohort of 16 students for this program. The outcomes thus far include placing students in local childcare centers to serve children who speak different languages. While this is currently in the capacity of a practicum, we anticipate it will lead to many employment opportunities once students obtain their childhood development associate credentials. Another outcome is the increased number of partnerships between GPTC and area childcare centers. 

6. Implementation Steps

Here are a few steps to implement a similar program:

  1. Assess community needs and build a program that directly addresses what gaps exist in early childhood care.
  2. Solicit support from local partners, including resettlement agencies and early childhood care centers.
  3. Identify key staff who are qualified to work on the program and build a team tasked with design and implementation. 

7. Challenges 

GPTC received a grant for the first year of the program, but subsequent funding to maintain the instructor’s position is challenging. Additionally, because of the 5-month duration of the program, some attrition has occurred as conflicts such as illnesses and family obligations arise for students.

8. Resources and Partnerships

To be successfully implemented this program requires the following:

  • .Funding is needed to cover the costs of the instructor’s salary, books for students, and incentives such as transportation and childcare stipends. 
  • A committed instructor with experience in early childhood care and teaching immigrants is key for this program. An administrative staff is also required to manage budgets, recruitment, and student concerns.
  • Local early childhood care centers are essential partners in this program. They provide practicum locations and can hire students who complete the program.

9. Looking to the Future

We are in the planning stages of a second cohort and are working on obtaining additional funding sources to continue growing this initiative. 

10. Contact Information

Name: Mary Baxter
Title: Instructional Coordinator
Organization: Georgia Piedmont Technical College

State: Georgia

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