A grant of $340,000 for the “Growing Master Trainers” project, aims to increase the number of early childhood trainers by mitigating barriers to training that are often experienced by communities of color, reaching those who are linguistically and culturally diverse, and supporting providers who are in rural communities. The project is funded through a collaboration of ten Oregon and Washington funders.
The Oregon Center for Career Development (OCCD) at Portland State University has a mission to support Oregon’s youngest children. OCCD provides leadership in statewide professional development standards, develops and provides trainings for childcare providers, and supports approximately 600 trainers throughout the state. These trainers provide training to early learning and after-school providers, many of whom work in Oregon’s Office of Child Care licensed facilities. OCCD has a contract with the Office of Child Care to certify and support the trainers and maintains the database of 23,000 individual Oregon childcare providers and their professional development progress. The challenges for OCCD are manifold. As Oregon’s 0–5 population becomes increasingly diverse, early childhood facilities and childcare providers need support in multiple languages and cultures in both urban and rural communities.
The grant is unique in that the funding was pooled at The Oregon Community Foundation from several organizations. These include: The Oregon Community Foundation, The Ford Family Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Social Venture Partners Portland, Portland Children’s Levy, Lora L. and Martin N. Kelley Foundation Trust, the James L. and Marion F. Miller Foundation, and The Collins Foundation, The Oscar and Elsa Mayer Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Childcare providers across Oregon are increasingly diverse and speak an array of languages. To meet their ongoing professional development needs, trainers must also be culturally diverse, speak languages other than English, offer diverse training materials, and be available to train around the state. However, trainers from communities of color, or who are linguistically and culturally diverse, or who are from rural communities experience barriers to advancing as trainers. “We would love to publish training materials in more languages and have more certified trainers available to deliver high-quality training, but we first must overcome the barriers that prevent them from participating in the system,” said OCCD Director Pam Deardorff. Deardorff’s goal is to match more of the trainers to the demographics of the childcare providers. For example, 3–5 percent of the childcare providers are Native American, but only 1 percent of qualified trainers are.
Besides language, barriers to advancing in the training system include lack of transportation, affordability, education, accessibility, and commitments to caregiving work and family responsibilities. The OCCD will begin with a pilot project and expand from there. “We will approach it from the ground up,” said Deardorff. “We want to build the pipeline for populations who have faced these barriers in our system and haven’t had a voice.”
The objective is to recruit a cohort of new trainers who are representative of the target populations, and provide mentoring supports to them. The goal is to expand existing community partnerships to identify and remove barriers and to develop a professional learning community that is culturally and linguistically matched to the population. The project is guided by a community council of stakeholders who will provide insight on barriers to participation, and develop recommendations to remove the barriers.
The OCCD has a staff of 33, funded by grants totaling over $3 million. Each year, OCCD offers hundreds of trainings across the state, but much more is needed. With partnerships and grant funding, they are working to help solve Oregon’s achievement gap, pave the way for student success in school, and produce happy, successful adults.