Current and future childcare workers now have access to a comprehensive training and coaching program that prepares them for their job and provides the education needed to increase their career opportunities. The “Spiral Up,” program aims to elevate the childcare profession and support individuals in receiving the tools needed to provide high-quality early childhood care and education to the youngest population in the state.
Offered at no cost, the Spiral Up Academy is a seven-week program designed to set new childcare professionals up for success as they begin their careers. It consists of weekly virtual trainings, individual coaching and independent online trainings. At the conclusion of their participation, individuals will have completed all the initial State of Nevada Child Care Licensing required trainings that workers in the field must complete within the first 120 days of their employment, with the exception of CPR and first aid. They also receive 14 hours of additional training that is not mandated, but will help improve their skillset as they begin work in the early childhood education field.
Extension’s Spiral Up Academy is open to early childcare educators working with children 0-5 years. The academy is offered five times a year. Currently, in order to enroll, a newly hired employee must be referred from a licensed child care center director or administrator.
Each week, individuals spend 30 minutes with a coach discussing the training topic and setting goals for improving practices in the early childhood classroom.
In addition to providing training for new professionals, the program provides support to center directors by ensuring their new hires complete the required training in their first 120 days and removing some of the administrative burden of tracking their progress. Previously, it was up to the directors to track and help new hires navigate and find classes. With the introduction of Spiral Up, that work has been done both for the director and the new hire.
Once professionals complete their initial training, Extension offers continued workforce training to keep them on track for meeting annual job training requirements. Workforce training topics include Best Practices for Intentional Teaching, Targeted Social Emotional Supports in Early Childhood and Building Nurturing Responsive Relationships, to name a few.
Twenty of the training hours that individuals receive from the Spiral Up Academy meet the requirements for the Child Development Associate Credential, which is a nationally recognized credential from the Council for Professional Recognition. This credential provides an opportunity for promotion and pay increases in early childhood programs such as Head Start. The credential also meets one of the qualifications for the position of early childhood center director and helps an early childhood provider qualify for more positions by showing potential future employers that they have reached a professional level of skill and knowledge.
After receiving this credential, early childhood professionals are encouraged to continue their education by completing associate, bachelor’s or graduate degrees. Extension also offers the Adult Learning Academy for Trainers, Leadership Professional Learning Community, and Coaching Circles and Community of Practice programs. These programs build a community of early childhood professionals who collect and share information and discuss best practices in their field. Members assist in developing and sustaining learning, and use what they learn by integrating it into their work to effect change in the early childhood field.
Extension has been providing child care training for more than 25 years as part of its professional development for child care providers programming to help fill a gap in this training that existed in the state.