First 5 Contra Costa has been a longtime supporter of child care providers who enroll in college to earn their Associate’s degrees in Early Childhood Education. Over the years, providers have received tutoring, academic advising, loans for books, and financial incentives when they meet educational and professional goals.
One strategy that has been particularly effective is the cohort program at Diablo Valley College for child care providers who speak English as a second language. A small, committed group of providers – who primarily speak either Farsi or Spanish – have taken several classes together. Along the way, the providers received tutoring and group support, including taking workshops together to prepare for upcoming classes.
Maria Escobar, a family child care provider in the Monument community of Concord, is one of the cohort members. She has been providing child care for 20 years and returned to school a few years ago. Escobar provides child care seven days a week and says the group support has kept her going.
“Without the help of the group and our tutor, this would be impossible. Not only is English my second language, but I’m also much older than the other students,” said Escobar. “Our tutor helps us feel more comfortable with the classes and learning in a group keeps me on my educational path.”
Last year the group decided to take the most difficult English class required for their AA degree. To prepare for the class, they met weekly throughout the summer. They were so devoted to their preparation that when one student’s husband became ill with cancer, the whole group, including the tutor, began meeting at her house so she could be there for her husband and stay connected to the learning community.
“The classes I’ve taken have made a big difference in how I communicate with parents about their children,” said Escobar. “When I have concerns about a child’s behavior, I am able to tell the parents what I’ve learned in class and can provide them with information to help them care for their children.”
To learn more about the Cohort Program, click here.