What is the Professional Development Organization (PDO)?

The Early Childhood Education (ECE) Professional Development Organization (PDO) at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is a Pennsylvania Department of Education grant-funded partnership among four PASSHE universities (Shippensburg, Lock Haven, East Stroudsburg, and Edinboro) and 19 other universities, colleges, and community partners to increase the educational credentials among those who teach and care for preschool-aged children in childcare centers. The PDO aims to expand the pipeline of credentialed early childcare providers who teach and care for our youngest citizens during their developmentally formative years.

Why is this needed?

Children’s early care and education are vital to their school readiness and lifelong learning. However, there is a wide disparity in credentials among workers who foster the learning environments of pre-kindergarten-aged children. In Pennsylvania today, only about one-third of those working in childcare centers have a relevant credential or degree. The challenge is to close that gap by enabling the affordability of and access to credit-bearing coursework and credentials for the workforce who care for and educate young children.

How is the ECEPDO meeting this goal?

The ECEPDO at PASSHE is working to remove barriers that often get in the way of early childcare providers’ ability to advance their education and professional development. By sponsoring no-cost tuition and the cost of course materials, computers, WiFi, and other technology supports to qualifying applicants, many prohibitive barriers are removed. Additionally, students can have access to Spanish-translated content by making a request to their PD Coordinator. Further, PDO Success Coaches will offer assistance, such as time management guidance to students to help them balance home, work, and school obligations. Removing these barriers to education will lead to greater numbers of individuals who will earn a Child Development Associate certificate (CDA) and Associate’s or Bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education that prepare them for good, in-demand jobs.

How long will it take to earn a certificate or degree?

That depends on each student’s situation. Some coursework assignments will be part of regular daily work; other assignments will be done outside of the job. Any training already completed, as well as work experience can be considered for possible equivalency credits.

How can students apply and navigate the process?

Getting started is as easy as 1‐2‐3!

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Be a Pennsylvania resident
  • Be a current employee at a certified child care program for 3 months or more or demonstrate employment history of 6 months in child care if newly hired. Participants actively enrolled in PDO activities will not be impacted by change of employer as long as the new employer is a certified child care program
  • Work a minimum of 25 hours per week directly in a certified child care program
  • For child care directors make no more than $25.00 per hour; for child care teachers, asst. teachers and aides make no more than $21.63 per hour
  • Be interested in pursuing coursework at a participating college toward an AA or BA degree or a CDA credential
  • GPA and course grades meet transfer requirements; a watch plan is developed for participants not meeting transfer requirements
  • Sign a Pennsylvania Early Childhood Education Commitment Form

First, apply for tuition assistance here. Childcare providers must work a yearly average of 25 hours/week (during non-COVID periods). This COVID period may be an ideal time to advance your education, particularly if center activity has slowed as a result of the pandemic.

Next, student applicants will be contacted by an ECE Professional Development Coordinator. Consider them as your personal navigator who will help to match you with a PDO education partner that meets your needs and future vision.

Third, your ECE Professional Development Coordinator will help you to register for classes. Many schools follow a semester schedule (so do not delay!), and some make summer courses available. The PDO partnership enables students to transfer credit-bearing courses from one education partner to another, thus offering tremendous flexibility!

Who can you talk to if you have questions before you apply?

Any one of these ECE Professional Development Coordinators will help you. Reach out today!