Making the Difference
Professional development is an lifelong process to ensure children receive quality care based on research and best practices in the field. High quality early learning environments cannot be achieved without a quality workforce. The KIDS NOW Initiative in 2000 gave Kentucky an opportunity to make great advances in Early Care and Education. The KIDS NOW Scholarship program built a strong higher education infra-structure throughout the state. Professional development gave the field a common language that child care, state-funded preschool and Head Start can all understand and use to build, blend and partner together. Our professional development systems are evolving daily and are driven by community data input and directed to address high quality early learning environments, supporting families and using data to guide success.
Kentucky's Career Lattice
The concept of a Professional Development Lattice has served Kentucky as a guiding compass for 15+years. In the early years of planning before KIDS NOW, it became evident that the needs in the Early Care and Education field could not be met with a traditional professional development ladder mindset. Our field included workers from throughout the educational spectrum, from high school drop outs to highly educated professionals. There are many success stories, like Linda Avery.
We have learned from the field that modeling best practices and mentoring, i.e. “coaching,” lead to a fast-track to quality outcomes. The use of a professional development plan gives feed-back to employees and supervisors in terms of creating a non-threatening, quality driven and self-actualizing process that energizes staff. A huge obstacle in the professional development debate has been the truism that once people obtain education, credentials and degrees, they leave their jobs for better salaries and benefits. In the past, often the response was to deny employees educational opportunities so they will “stay in a dead end job. We have learned from the field that opportunity creates positive work environments, hope for the future and amazing networks as people move up and throughout the career lattice. In our roll of outtakes from the field we discovered a spontaneous comment that was supposed to be a criticism of the loss of staff, but in fact Jill Evans provided us with a learning point about the need to graduate from high school credentialed, college and career ready students.