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 16 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 ECE PDO meeting this goal?

The ECE PDO 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, 24/7 tutoring and multilingual supports are available. 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!

First, apply for tuition assistance here. Childcare providers must work a yearly average of 20 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 Liaison. 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 Liaison 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 Liaisons will help you. Reach out today!