New program aims to integrate older adults to work in early childhood education

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COLORADO — A new program launched in Colorado aims to help early childhood education find staff. It will pair older adults with the education they need to volunteer or be licensed providers.

Anyone 50-year-olds and older can volunteer with children in a classroom or be a business advisor for early childhood education

Early Childhood Service Corps is a program in the recruiting phase. There are 24 spots for the Spring semester. It will all be online coursework so anyone in Colorado can complete it through the University of Colorado, Denver. Once a person finishes the two college courses then they can be matched up with a provider near where they live.

Experience Engaged Early Childhood Manager Lisa Armao said 70% of licensed directors in early childhood education are having difficulty filling openings.

“They put an ad out to have somebody sign up or they get no response at all or if they do get responses the people don’t show up,” Armao explained. “It’s a really hard job and the pandemic has made it even more difficult.”

Directors have been desperate for help that they’re having to be in the classroom rather than spending time finding additional staff or funding. This new program will help by bringing in 50+ year-olds to volunteer or get an early childhood education license.

“Maybe being an early childhood sub would be perfect cause three or four days of the week you could sub at your grandchild’s preschool. We are hoping it’s a win-win,” Armao added.

The free course can provide volunteers with the experience and knowledge to get a license for early childhood education in a single semester. The course work is in English but they can provide Spanish-speaking mentors.

“Being from a different country it can be very challenging to know how to do things here or to know the terminology of things,” Preschool Director Marta Zeman said.

Integrating older adults in early childhood education uses the experience and wisdom of one generation to empower future generations.

“If it fills you up, it fills you up, and so we are hoping that the people who are not near their grandchildren and would really love this contact that this is something for them to do,” Armao said.

The $225,000 program was funded by multiple grants. Classes begin in January but people can sign up today by the links below.

Link For Classroom Volunteer Information

Link for Business Advisor Volunteers

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