Responsive Relationships: Supporting Diverse Learning communities in Certificate and Associate-degree Preparation for Early Childhood Professionals.

AuthorMatus-Amat, Patricia

Introduction

From 2002 to 2013, the number of Latino students at California United States community college district, hereafter referred to as the District, increased from 14.8% to over 30% of the total student population. Given county demographic projections, the college's Office of Institutional Research (OIR) estimated that Latinos would become the majority student population by 2020 Greaney, 2013 (as cited in Eberly John E., 2015).

Community College of Denver has a long-standing history of being one of the most diverse colleges in Colorado. Currently, more than 30 percent of our student population is Latina, more than 50 percent self-identify as underrepresented, and our international students represent more than 63 nations. Additionally, more than 60 percent are the first person in their family to attend college.

The Early Childhood Education program at Community College of Denver values it's relationship with the community, and is responsive to the growing need to prepare a diverse workforce to serve young children and families. One of the program's full-time faculty members is a bilingual Spanish speaker who has established a strong rapport with the Spanish speaking community of early childhood providers in Denver. When the community approached her with interest in pursuing college coursework, she and her colleagues felt it was vital to support Spanish speaking providers as valuable members of the early childhood community. The ECE program is committed to access, equity and student success.

Currently, more than 60% of Colorado's early childhood center directors report a top challenge to be finding qualified staff. By expanding access to the fundamentals course to the Spanish-speaking community of Colorado, we have not only prepared hundreds of caregivers, but also found that early childhood educators who speak more than one language and are culturally knowledgeable are an invaluable resource for children. (EC Workforce 2020 Plan).

There is widespread agreement throughout the P-20 education pipeline that the more educators reflect the demographics of their students, the stronger the impact on children's optimal development. Serving a growing and changing population and reflecting the diversity of that population requires an intentional focus on building a highly-qualified, effective, and diverse early childhood workforce for Colorado (EC Workforce 2020 Plan).

In the state of Colorado, Introduction to Early Childhood Education, or ECE...

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