Looking to the Future
It’s no doubt that Wyoming early childhood educators have faced more than their fair share of struggles. Staff shortages, long hours, navigating relationships with families, and meager pay are just some of the challenges early educators face daily. Not to mention the recent and ongoing pandemic. Being an early educator is one of the most important jobs anyone can have, yet they are one of the poorest paid and often go underappreciated. In Wyoming, we are on our way to changing that.
Over the past three years, the Wyoming Early Childhood Professional Learning Collaborative’s goal has been to make professional learning more accessible to educators as well as elevate the early childhood profession. One way we’ve been doing so is by using funds from the Preschool Development Grant to align with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Power to the Profession collaboration. In 2019 Wyoming was awarded federal dollars to analyze our current climate in the early childhood field as well as create a strategic plan to sustain improvement and infrastructure. In 2020 Wyoming was awarded additional federal dollars (over the course of three years) to carry out the work outlined in the strategic plan.
So far NAEYC, along with Wyoming Kids First, WYECON, and the WYECPLC, has held five meetings to connect with Wyoming educators and early education stakeholders. Their goal is to explain what embracing the Power to the Profession as well as the Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Profession can mean for our state. Work has already begun on the ground to move us in this direction. For example, last year a group of educators, parents, and other early childhood professionals formed the “Quality Learning Network” along with Leading for Children to createWyoming’s Coherent Path to Quality. This document outlines what quality care and education look like in our state.
Power to the Profession means big changes in the early childhood field that have been long awaited by the many educators and providers. Its goals include subsidized and sustained funding for a living wage for educators, more cohesive pathways to higher education for educators entering and already in the field, and most of all, recognition for the importance that early childhood education truly holds.
Exciting things are still to come, including specific Pathways for early educators and providers to earn up to 15 free college credits that can be applied to an upcoming distance early childhood degree through the University of Wyoming, revised Wyoming Early Learning Standards, and continued accessibility to learning opportunities through the PLC.
Interested in watching recorded sessions of the NAEYC Deep Dives or learning more about Wyoming’s plan moving forward? For more information, please contact Rebecca Steinhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Preschool Development Grant, click here:
For More information about Power to the Profession click here: