National accreditation programs offered by United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education equip early childhood professionals with the skills and knowledge to deliver high-quality early care and education. For teachers like Kimika and Theresa, the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™ was a unique opportunity to open the door to a field they had long admired.
They learned about the program when they were co-teachers at Ethel F. Beckford Elementary, one of United Way’s Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) grant sites. There, they got to know each other on a personal level as co-teachers and formed a bond that would go further. Both liked what they were doing, but wanted more.
“I was just really inspired by what we were going to be learning and doing for the community,” Kimika said regarding getting her CDA Credential. “If you took what you learned here [the Center], you could go far. They were going to give us the tools we needed to be prosperous.”
Kimika’s story is one of personal triumph. She struggled with depression and was not sure what path her life should take next. She was already familiar with EHS-CCP programs and when she was initially looking for work, she was thrilled to discover she was interviewing for an EHS school. She already loved the program and the success her children had while enrolled, as well as the services they received.
For Theresa, things were a bit different. She started off as a part-time teacher at Ethel F. Beckford. She was unable to work full-time at first because of her family – her special needs son needed extra attention, and her husband was recovering from a stroke. Once her son graduated from school and her husband’s health improved, the opportunity arose for her to switch to full-time employment. The more time she spent with United Way in the EHS classroom, the more training and techniques she learned. She was intrigued and impressed. “It’s a whole new level of how to interact with children,” said Theresa.
What Kimika and Theresa put in, they started getting back from the experience, too. They learned to individualize everything for their students. “To be a part of that, I just knew that was something I wanted to grow with,” said Kimika.
Kimika opened her own business in January and Theresa built a small classroom in her yard that acts as a center. Both Kimika and Theresa currently run their own small family childcare homes and each of them services four families. They share the same goal for the future, too: going large and becoming directors of their own centers.