Great Expectations: The E3 Institute-San Jose State University Bachelor’s Degree Cohort Program for CARES Participants in Santa Clara County

By Yolanda Garcia, Ilene Hertz, Kara Dukakis

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Description

For many years, committed individuals and organizations in Santa Clara County have dreamed of helping underserved early childhood educators fulfill their goal of earning a bachelor’s degree. That dream became a reality when WestEd’s E3 Institute teamed with San Jose State University to design a program that would accommodate the needs of working early childhood educators, many of whom experience barriers to traditional coursework toward a degree. This report describes this unique bachelor’s degree program and its multiple goals, which are to:

  • Increase the quality of care and education provided to children and families across Santa Clara County
  • Continue to professionalize the early care and education (ECE) field
  • Provide a highly diverse group of ECE practitioners the opportunity to increase their knowledge of early education practice and theory
  • Provide ECE practitioners the opportunity to become leaders in the field
  • Create a model program for other counties across the state to emulate

WestEd’s E3 Institute supports the research showing that children are better prepared for school when taught by educators who are equipped with the necessary theoretical knowledge and education to improve the quality of care for the county’s youngest children. Evidence of the program’s benefits is presented in the voices of the bachelor’s degree cohort members, whose lives have been irrevocably changed by their participation and successes. The report also discusses lessons learned from the challenges faced in program implementation.

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