NORFOLK, Neb. – Ninety percent of a person's brain develops between birth and age 5. Every waking minute a person is with a child is a learning moment. It is not babysitting; it is brain-growing work. As a result, the nation is dependent on quality childcare.
The subject is the focus of an upcoming program at Northeast Community College featuring Lisa Guenther, early childhood education instructor, who will speak on “Quality Childcare for Our Nation - Northeast Early Childhood is Part of the Solution,” as part of the College’s Hawk Talks lecture series. The event will be held on Thur., Feb. 10, at 7 p.m., in Northeast’s Union 73, 801 E. Benjamin Ave., in Norfolk.
“Nebraska has the highest percentage of all parents/guardians in America in the workforce and Nebraska has the lowest unemployment rate in the country,” Guenther said. “Thus, Nebraska's need for quality childcare is great. Business and industry will not come to Nebraska unless we have quality childcare, among other factors.”
Guenther said Northeast Community College’s Early Childhood Education program is part of the solution in developing qualified childcare professionals. It offers three pathways in the field: Child Development Association (CDA®) certificate, an associate of applied science degree and an associate of arts degree in Early Childhood Education.
Guenther said the CDA prepares students for entry-level positions in childcare. The goal is to give a person experience in the early childhood career field so the individual will want to pursue their career with one of the next pathways.
“The associate of applied science degree prepares students to directly enter the workforce where they may open their own licensed childcare, or work as a nanny, paraprofessional, or childcare provider in a childcare center or home,” she said. “The associate of arts degree is for students who want to continue their education at a four-year college.
This includes early childhood courses as well as general education classes to meet their bachelor's degree requirements for careers in early childhood, early childhood inclusive education, or elementary education with an endorsement in early childhood. Students could eventually teach in a public preschool or elementary kindergarten through third grade.
Guenther said, “The childcare field continues to grow and the job outlook is good. Parents and employers seeking quality childcare find that our graduates are well-trained to assist in the development of children.”
The Hawks Talks lecture series is coordinated by Paul Muncy, social sciences instructor. It was borne out of a lecture series at the college last fall during National Humanities Month.
“I do love the idea of having instructors from the College give these talks, but, hopefully as we develop it, we could bring in other lecturers. It is about trying to connect with the rest of the community and make this a retreat for the intellect of people who want to have that stimulation.”
The series will continue with talks on Thur., March 10, and Thur., April 14. Hawks Talks are free and open to everyone.