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WSSU Receives Grant for Educating Early Childhood Workforce

February 24, 2013

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has received a $957,797 grant to improve the cultural competence of the early childhood workforce.

The grant was awarded by N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Child Development and Early Education.  It is being funded from the $70 million North Carolina received from the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge program designed to promote innovation and reform in early care and education.  North Carolina is one of only nine states to receive funding in the first round. North Carolina finished first in the national competition.

"Dr. Beth Day-Hairston, associate professor of education, and her colleagues worked very diligently on this grant proposal that we believe will develop and strengthen culturally responsive teaching practices," said Dr. Manuel Vargas, dean of the School of Education and Human Performance at WSSU.  "The work being supported by this funding also will impact the development of culturally inclusive program policies and improve the ability of those working in early childhood education to engage parents in their children’s learning and development process."

"We know that children learn in different ways, but we also know that their cultural backgrounds can affect  their learning as well," said Day-Hairston, principal investigator for the grant.  "As importantly, we know that parental involvement is a key from preschool through the rest of a child’s education. Having an early childhood educational program that is inclusive, respectful of differences and culturally sensitive affects both how well a child may learn and how engaged parents might be.  This grant will support our work to develop a comprehensive and responsive curriculum for those professionals who are on the front lines of educating our children."
"The funds will be used to develop and support the WSSU Practice Improvement Collaborative that will engage 100 participants in learning institutes and in teams that will engage in action research activities," Day-Hairston, explained.  "Our goal is to develop a curriculum that strengthens the ability of teachers, programs and agencies involved in early childhood education to offer not only high quality programs, but programs that are designed from a cultural and linguistic standpoint in an effort to enhance learning and family engagement."

The collaborative will include a cross-cultural group of teachers, parents and community leaders, as well as emerging and experienced early childhood leaders, center administrators and staff from the state Division of Child Development and Early Education.  The action research will be facilitated by coaches who have expertise in cultural competence and early childhood care and education.

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