A new Early Childhood Education certificate was approved by the Garden City Community College Board of Trustees at its regular meeting Tuesday.


The certificate is a 17-credit-hour, short-term foundational program that trains students in the basics of high-quality child care and education.


GCCC has been in conversations with Finney County Economic Development for the past year to create the program to meet the needs gap in regional child care.


GCCC President Ryan Ruda said the approval of the certificate was needed to submit a formal application to the Kansas Board of Regents for program approval.


This is not the college’s first time offering early childhood courses, Ruda said, but they were strictly courses and did not lead to a recognized credential in the industry. This will.


Marc Malone, vice president for Instruction Services, said the certificate will lead to a Child Development Associate, which is recognized nationally.


"The goal is to provide a package of courses that provide those credentials and help students really train and up-skill for credentialing purposes to meet the demand for child care providers in our area," he said.


Malone said a certificate is not required for someone to open their own child care facility in their home, but it is required in an organized facility.


There is an idea that there are correlations between high-quality child care early on to success in educational outcomes later in life, Malone said. This certificate helps support that idea.


"We see all of that as kind of a dual approach for strengthening our local service area, making sure that we have safe and effective child care available ... but we also see it as supporting educational outcomes in the very long-term picture," he said. "Making sure that children have options for safe and effective child care that is really backed up and correlated with those learning outcomes long-term."


Additionally, the program provides an avenue for a dual credit possibility, Ruda said. Conversations have been had with both Garden City and Holcomb school districts and other districts in GCCC’s service area about the possibility.


"Both school districts have been very receptive and have actually had the pathways in place on their side," he said. "It’s been received very favorably and there’s strong interest in that."