As an Early Childhood Coach, one of my objectives is to help my coachees connect with services or initiatives that will support their professional growth and improve quality. These services are key because they offer support, connection and professional development after the coaching services end. Working with Carol, she was able to utilize many of the services that the Institute and her local CCR&R offer. For example, Carol is a part of QUALITYstarsNY, receives coaching, joined the Leadership Initiative, collaborated with a Career Advisor at the Career Development Center, and enrolled in the NYS Children’s Program Administrator Credential (CPAC) program through CUNY School of Professional Studies. Carol’s engagement is a rare one, and one that should be highlighted and used as an example of how we can connect the dots and utilize resources to support overall growth of the workforce within one organization.

Please share a bit about your professional experience and your current role.

I began my career in post-secondary education. I taught at an inner-city Charter school in Erie, Pennsylvania, for over 14 years. I relocated to this area six years ago and began my career in early childhood education. Erwin Child & Family Center in Painted Post, New York, hired me as the Assistant Director. We have the capacity for 193 children and employ over 60 staff. The Center provides care for children 6 weeks old to 12 years old. After three years, I was promoted to Executive Director.

How have the resources that you accessed helped you in your work as an ECE Leader?

I began working with QUALITYstarsNY two years ago and have a 3-star rating. They have assisted with purchasing program and classroom equipment, professional development, continued education, and curriculum development. We also partner frequently with ProAction [ProAction Child Care Aware ®of Steuben and Schuyler (CCAoSS) is the local Resource and Referral Agency]. ProAction assisted with Dial 4 and ASQ3 training and implementation. They have been instrumental in providing coaching for teachers. They work one-on-one with funding and CDA assistance. They provide support from beginning to end with continued education courses. QUALITYstarsNY connected me to Andrea Bruno who in turn connected me to the Southern Tier Leadership Initiative. Andrea has provided coaching for myself and four other staff. She has provided a fountain of information and has made an immense impact on my leadership skills and has been a vital support to the other staff as well. The Leadership Initiative has provided professional development opportunities as well as financial guidance and mentoring through the continuing education process.

Given the use of these programs what is a piece of advice or take away you would give to other leaders or to those working in the field of ECE?

I would highly advise anyone working in the ECE field to get connected. Networking with local agencies has been instrumental in my professional development as well as the development of the Center. I highly suggest getting connected with ProAction, applying for QUALITYstarsNY, joining NAEYC, and joining the Leadership Initiative. If these organizations are not available, seek out other childcare advocate groups. Join a leadership support group. Take as many leadership and supervisory trainings as possible. Oftentimes trainings can lead to valuable connections.

What goals have you achieved through the services?

My first goal was to maintain accreditation. I recently passed my recertification. My second goal was to become QUALITYstarsNY rated which I now am. My third goal was to find resources to offer staff opportunities to further their education. I have four staff in the final stages of CDA completion and five additional staff at the beginning stages. My final goal was for my own professional development. I am now enrolled in the CPAC program and halfway through my first two classes. I am excited to continue my education and look forward to a continued partnership with the above-mentioned organizations.

Andrea Bruno is an early childhood coach at the NY Early Childhood Professional Development Institute.