The Utah Association for the Education of Young Children (UAEYC) has launched a new scholarship project called T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Utah, which is making its debut with Salt Lake Community College.
“This fall we will begin funding scholarships for 30 early childhood teachers and directors of early childcare centers to support them in earning an associate’s degree,” said UAEYC T.E.A.C.H. counselor Katie Roberts. “We are excited to be partnered with Salt Lake Community College for this first cohort of students.”
Utah is the most recent state to be licensed through T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®, a national evidence based model that has been implemented in 23 states across the country. T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Utah pays for tuition, books, a travel stipend and paid released time from work to attend classes and to study.
“I was completely shocked and surprised,” said scholarship recipient and preschool teacher Eliane Rixe. She thought because of her age, 50, that she didn’t stand a chance of getting the scholarship she learned about in an email. She applied, won the scholarship along with other SLCC students in the first cohort, and will now be attending SLCC at the same time as the youngest of her three sons. “This is the best gift I’ve ever received. I have to stop and say, ‘Thank you.’”
Scholarship recipient Elaine Rixe
T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® also guarantees the recipient an increase in wages for every 9-12 credits of higher education completed. The goal of the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® program is to improve early childhood classroom quality and child outcomes by increasing the level of education of early childhood teachers and their wages.
“The T.E.A.C.H. Program will be a game-changer for the early childhood profession in our state of Utah,” said Sally Schramm, SLCC Family and Human Studies associate professor. “Having our early childhood teachers enroll in college courses and ultimately receive a degree will raise the bar for quality in all of our early childhood settings. The teachers of our youngest children in Utah will benefit from understanding theoretical and historical perspectives of education, which adds to their current knowledge as practitioners. Ultimately, this new scholarship program is a win for all people who care about young children, especially for all of the children and parents in our state.”
A 2016 study by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment reports that approximately 50% of 300,000 children under age five live in families where all available parents work, but access to high quality childcare is limited. Part of the problem, according to the study, is that most childcare teachers lack specialized education, and that the average wage for childcare teachers is $9.47 an hour. Low levels of teacher education and wages, the report finds, result in poor quality classrooms for children, early childhood teachers that live in poverty and high rates of teacher turnover.
The UAEYC’s launch of T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® in Utah is also in collaboration with the Utah Office of Child Care, the Utah Bureau of Child Development, Utah Department of Health and the Children's Center. The funds to provide the scholarships have been made possible by donations and grants from public and private resources.