Early childhood care and education projects, a service unit at U of A, recently developed a website that will serve as a centralized resource center for professionals providing early care and education to young children in the state.
The site, AReceResources.org, is intended for early childhood educators, owners and directors of child care programs, home child care providers, and early childhood education support staff. The site will launch in February 2022 and will provide access to more than 2,000 practical tools, manuals, policies and advice on critical topics such as child development, best practices, small business management, health and safety and emergency preparedness. Arkansas joins 33 other states across the country that have adopted a shared resource platform to support early childhood education success.
Deniece Honeycutt, director of early care and education projects, said her office will continue to work with CCA For Social Good, a company that creates web platforms for nonprofits, to expand and customize the site in order to meet the specific needs of service providers and professionals. in Arkansas.
The organization has served Arkansas for nearly 30 years in conjunction with the U of A College of Education and Health Professions. It is funded by the Elementary and Secondary Education Division of the Arkansas Department of Education and the Child Welfare and Early Childhood Education Division of the Department of Social Services.
ECEP helps early childhood educators in Arkansas so that they can provide quality child care in all settings – including center-based programs, family daycares, faith-based programs, home visits or extracurricular programs. The organization educates professionals through accessible, high-quality courses, connects vendors with one another and experts in the field, and provides professionals with coaching and resources to put learning into practice.
Founding principal Bobbie Biggs established the service unit in 1992 after seeing the need to support early learning efforts for child care programs before entering kindergarten. Orientation training on child care was the first course offered by the organization. Since then, the class has trained more than 40,000 early childhood and education teachers.
ECEP has a significant impact statewide. The changing environment for early childhood education in Arkansas continues to offer even more growth opportunities, said Honeycutt. By 2020, more than 200 trainers across Arkansas delivered classes in a variety of locations, including daycares, public schools, vocational centers, technical institutes, community colleges, and other post-secondary institutions. . During the pandemic, the organization moved all of its traditional face-to-face classes online, and the number of child care providers who were able to attend nearly doubled.
“I never see us going back to just offering face-to-face lessons,” Honeycutt said. “The online format has had a huge impact on the reach of the program.
In 2020, the organization created two new courses: Infant-Toddler Social-Emotional Learning and Observation and Assessment. Honeycutt said they have started to offer a few options at their own pace as well. All classes are free for early childhood and education teachers.
From now on, links to these courses and a wide variety of resources will be available on this comprehensive new website. Teachers will be able to quickly access useful information in one place.
“I hope the site serves as the initial impetus for the types of shared services we will be offering in the years to come,” Honeycutt said. “We will be working with other contractors across the state to include their resources on the website as well. With their input, we will continue to develop and customize the site to meet the specific local needs of suppliers and professionals. We look forward to the platform becoming the first place people in early childhood education turn to when they need tools, support and guidance. “