Leveraging Technology, Growing Our People: Bright Horizons' Online Training Program

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Highlights

  • The Bright Horizons eCDA is the latest in our training resources that utilizes technology and extends our commitment to growing our employees.
  • The program offers our employees 120 hours of formal education and prepares them to file and gain their Child Development Associate Credential at no cost.
  • Since the launch of the program in 2007, 300 teachers have received their CDA.
Part of being a Great Place to Work is remaining innovative, developing new ways to engage employees, and leveraging leading-edge resources to reach the next level. At Bright Horizons, we recently launched a unique training program, the Bright Horizons eCDA. It is the latest in our training resources that utilizes technology and extends our commitment to growing our employees. What's more, as a large, multisite, geographically dispersed organization, the eCDA satisfies our need to provide an equitable training solution for employees who wish to advance their careers.

Harnessing the Movement

In the child care and early education field, the Child Development Associate (CDA) National Credentialing Program is a major movement to improve the quality of child care through the Council for Professional Recognition. The CDA program assesses and credentials early care and education professionals based on training and performance.

A Comprehensive Solution

In 2005, Bright Horizons committed to making a CDA program available across the organization as a way to provide appropriate and consistent opportunities for our employees to grow professionally, while working to ensure National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation. With our teacher population located across the country, in-person training for thousands of teachers posed a Herculean challenge. Thus, the Bright Horizons eCDA Program was born, a multicomponent credentialing program that includes online, interactive coursework, and interaction with facilitators. Bright Horizons' eCDA Program offers our employees 120 hours of formal education and prepares them to file and gain their Child Development Associate Credential (CDA) ' at no cost to employees. In addition, the program:

  • Helps centers meet state licensing and NAEYC accreditation staffing requirements by fulfilling teacher qualification standards
  • Offers college credit to those enrolling in a partnering associate degree program
  • Provides teachers with a cost-effective option since Bright Horizons pays for this program
  • Makes instruction available to teachers in short segments at any time of the day
  • Allows programs in remote locations or areas with many centers to train in virtual groups and learn from each other
  • Helps teachers stay motivated because it is fun and engaging
  • Provides growth opportunities, as well as increases our recruitment and retention
  • Shares best practices across broad geographical areas
The credential is an important milestone in an employee's professional development, as the CDA is often the first step towards an associate's or a bachelor's degree.

One of a Kind

Bright Horizons' eCDA Program is unique in the early education industry. Through a partnership with Teaching Strategies, Inc. and Allen Interactions, we built the program to include online training, learning guides, a blog, and monthly group conference and individual calls with a facilitator. The teaching modules are available online day or night, allowing teachers a convenient way to grow their careers. In conjunction with the five required components, employees also complete the CDA Council of Professional Recognition requirements, which include writing an autobiography and statements of competence, developing a professional resource collection, obtaining and meeting with an advisor, and distributing and collecting parent questionnaires.

Results and Rewards

Once an employee completes the eCDA Program, he or she may receive a salary increase of 10 percent as well as new growth and promotion opportunities. Since the launch of the program in 2007, 300 teachers have received their CDA. We have seen qualitative changes in the education and care that credentialed teachers provide to the children and families they serve. Most notably, center directors of candidates in the program report that teachers now understand the 'why' behind quality early childhood practice and how each interaction can affect a child's life.

As one director said in anonymous survey, 'The eCDA program has helped my teachers gain a more thorough understanding of why we do what we do, especially regarding our curriculum. They have gained a lot of self confidence and can better articulate their developmental goals for the children.' The CDA candidates are also thrilled with the program, which has increased their engagement in their work. 'I wanted to express how grateful I am for all your help and leadership during my CDA process,' remarked a teacher in the survey. 'Because of eCDA, I moved from an associate teacher to a teacher with my own classroom, implementing my own thoughts, insights, and experiences with families and children everyday. My life has been enriched and enhanced by gaining my CDA!' Another teacher agreed: 'Participation in the eCDA Program has given me an enormous sense of accomplishment and pride in my work.'

Giving Back to the Industry

Based on the successful experience within Bright Horizons and the successful partnership with Teaching Strategies, the program is now being made available to organizations serving early childhood educators, such as community colleges or resource and referral networks that want to train groups of early childhood professionals. Bright Horizons' leadership in bringing the idea to life has resulted in a product that is effective beyond our centers and schools. The impact on the entire early childhood field is yet be seen, but we are proud and optimistic that our contribution may raise the quality of children's child care experiences across the country.

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.