ATHENS, Ga. -- A $770,000 grant to the University of Georgia will be used to improve training for child care workers in the state.
The university's College of Family and Consumer Sciences will get $770,000 from the Goizueta Foundation to fund the five-year grant, officials announced Tuesday.
The grant will allow the university to expand training for child care workers into parts of the state where little or no training is available, said Karen Shetterly of the university's Georgia Center for Continuing Education.
Ms. Shetterly and Anita Smith of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences will administer the grant.
"In many areas, especially in south Georgia, there are no opportunities for training locally, and child care providers have little opportunity for education," Ms. Shetterly said.
At the Center for Continuing Education and a few other places in the state, child care and early learning workers can complete an intensive 120-hour training program, explained Ms. Shetterly, who heads the training program.
Once a worker has completed that course and has 450 hours of experience, the worker can be certified as a childhood development associate, Ms. Shetterly explained.
The certificate provides an entry-level credential for workers in the field, but many workers in the state have far less training than that, she said.
Basic state requirements for most day care and other early childhood workers include only 10 hours of training, but the credential is now a requirement for those in lottery-funded state programs and in federally funded Head Start programs, she said.
The certificate program is part of a larger national effort to upgrade training standards.
"Part of what the (certificate) is trying to do nationally is to bring to the forefront ... the role these people have in the education of a child," she said.
The goal of the grant is to make the new training available at every public and private community college and technical school in the state, as well as over the Internet, Ms. Shetterly said.
Basic state requirements require only 10 hours of training.
The grant program will work in conjunction with the Georgia Early Learning Initiative, a program started by Gov. Roy Barnes to improve early learning and child care.
The grant will also be used to develop new training materials on topics such as including children with disabilities and promoting parent involvement. A pilot project will test the idea that the 120-hour training course could be used for college credit.
"We hope (the certificate) is not the end point and that they will continue their training from there so they can continue their education," Ms. Shetterly said.
The Goizueta Foundation was established in 1992 by the late Roberto C. Goizueta, who was chairman and chief executive officer of Coca-Cola Co. until his death in 1997.
"We're excited and think this can contribute to our state," Ms. Shetterly said.