WMU News

Teachers hit the books to improve early education

Aug. 15, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- The need to increase the quality of early learning educators is urgent, says Lori B. Farrer, a Western Michigan University associate professor of family and consumer sciences who is involved with a pilot program to help working child-care professionals earn bachelor's degrees.

"Almost 60 percent of Michigan mothers with children under 6 are in the labor force. And with more children than ever before out there in non-relative care, the damage of poor-quality child care is becoming more apparent," says Farrer.

This fall, WMU becomes a partner in Teacher Education and Compensation Helps--known as TEACH--an effort launched 12 years ago in North Carolina to increase the educational levels of child-care providers and bolster their earning power. In previous years, TEACH has offered associate degree scholarships to child-care workers.

"The link between quality child care and the education level of the provider is very, very strong," says Farrer. "The harm that's being done by children placed in poor-quality child care is tremendous, and the inequality that exists has become more apparent. Those who can pay have access to educators who are trained to provide high-quality child care."

Farrer can be reached at (269) 387-3716 or <lori.farrer@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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