In Iowa, 51 percent of all child care for those children with both parents working outside the home comes from home-based providers serving five or fewer children. Many of those child care providers have low levels of education, income, and training. Providers often face difficulties in receiving quality training opportunities—not having time to take off work, lack of transportation (especially in Iowa’s frequently inclement weather), and cost and quality of classes.
Iowa Public Television (IPTV) positioned itself as a leader in providing high-quality, literacy skill-building content and professional education curricula online for child care providers and educators of young children.
Along with 19 other PBS stations, IPTV participated in a Ready To Learn (RTL) grant that aimed to increase literacy skills and reading readiness among 2- to 8-year-old children, especially those in low-income communities. This RTL grant is provided through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Education, CPB, and PBS. The RTL grant provided IPTV with base funding to begin its professional education outreach to child care providers.
This funding enabled IPTV to recruit and provide scholarships for child care providers in Iowa to participate in two 6-week, 15-hour PBS TeacherLine online professional development courses.
“The cost of the course—$129—may not seem like much, unless it was your entire profit for a week,” said Trista Peitzman, pre-K–12 coordinator for IPTV.
Through the use of public media and RTL resources, the courses help participants to develop an understanding of key concepts about early literacy, learn, and implement practical strategies for developing the early literacy skills of the children they serve.
“Too many providers were dropping certification with the State because they couldn’t get their recertification finished,” said Raynee Sparks, a teacher and former recruitment manager for the IPTV initiative. One provider noted that she had taken a course through another training opportunity three times because that was all that was available to her. She was thrilled to have a new opportunity.
Ultimately, 183 child care providers from 43 of Iowa’s 99 counties were recruited for the courses. Of those, 161 enrolled in the first course, and 22 enrolled in the second course. The funding that IPTV secured for scholarships covered the cost of tuition and materials, and, upon successful completion, participants received resources for the children in their care.
The measure of success
91 percent of participants (147 of 161) successfully completed the first course, and 82 percent (18 of 22) successfully completed the second course.
Next on the horizon
To date, 233 providers have taken the first course and are eager to take the second course. A third Raising Readers course is now available that targets those who work with first- to third-grade students. IPTV is also working with community colleges so that participants can earn undergraduate credits by successfully completing the courses. And, because IPTV had a scholarship waiting list of 200 additional participants, when CPB and PBS recruited participants for a summative evaluation of the two courses, those 200 people were enrolled in the courses as part of a national study of the effectiveness of the courses on teacher practice.
The contents of this document were developed under a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Department of Education (Award Numbers: U295A050003 and U295B050003). However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.
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