Of course, a curriculum - like any business plan - is only as good as those who deliver it. And as an organization, we know that providing top child care has to be complemented with initiatives to enhance the qualifications of our teachers and our ability to hold on to them.
What we've found is that addressing the former (teacher education) also positively impacts the latter (employee turnover and retention).
Raising the Bar on Early Childhood EducationOne of our most successful initiatives has its origins in 1985, when the Council for Professional Recognition began administering the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. The Council's aim was to improve credentialing among teachers in the early education field. But our goal was to build on that and go one better - to create an online platform (the eCDA) to ensure all of our teachers had access to achieving it.
Our eCDA program, now ten years old, was developed by experts in the field. It offers dynamic, interactive, and practical lessons, all paid for by Bright Horizons. Teachers in Bright Horizons centers are supported by facilitators who hold individual calls, group calls, and support on-line discussions.
In accordance with Council rules, the Bright Horizons eCDA has 13 modules or functional areas which are to be completed in about one year, including 120 hours of formal education and 480 hours of classroom experience. Along the way, students prepare a portfolio of their work which is then formally reviewed.
Writing an Early Childhood Success StoryIt's been an unqualified success. What began with six pilot groups yielding 52 graduates who received the CDA credential will result in our 2000th eCDA graduate later this year.
Our teachers' credentials and expertise have certainly been a critical payoff. The eCDA has complemented our own extensive training, helping Bright Horizons meet the ever growing list of teacher requirements, and provided a nationally recognized standard that fulfills necessities of both licensing and accreditation. And our personalized approach has resulted in the highest completion rate in the world of CDA.
Top Educators and Other Fringe BenefitsBut this very large investment in time and resources has had some other important and very positive fringe benefits as well.
Employee turnover: The retention rate of teachers hired in 2010 and 2011 who received their eCDA is more than twice that of those who did not attain the credential. There is not only a dollar amount we can attach to teacher retention, but also a consistency of care quotient that is of enormous value in early education.
Desire for continued learning: Our adult students came from a variety of backgrounds: 48% had some college, 16% had a college degree, 2% had graduate degrees. For these people, eCDA offered them an entry into a new field. 26% had no college experience beyond high school. For all students, eCDA translated to nine college credit courses, and encouraged those who completed the course to continue on towards an AA degree.
Positive knowledge culture: If you were to visit a Bright Horizons center, you would quickly learn who had completed eCDA, who was working on eCDA, or even who was thinking about signing up. It's a strong part of the Bright Horizons culture and for good reason. eCDA teachers are eager to talk about what they've learned, and their colleagues are equally eager to let you know how one person's eCDA accomplishments have enriched an entire classroom. This program exemplifies the Bright Horizons saying: Hire for attitude; train for skill.
International standards: eCDA was valuable even outside the United States. In 2014, Bright Horizons teachers in Bangalore, India received their credentials through the eCDA program, and another group is ready to begin.Our eCDA program was created in collaboration with the Council for Professional Development, Teaching Strategies, and Bright Horizons. And it proved to be the quintessential "out of the box" thinking that paid off.
Thanks to some forward-thinking educators, we've met the increasing teacher requirements, raised the quality of care in centers, lowered turnover, and offered hundreds of teachers their first opportunity for post-secondary education.
Learn more about how our signature curriculum has made Bright Horizons early education the choice for employers and parents worldwide. Or visit here to learn more about Bright Horizons' employer-sponsored child care options.