The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare is hoping a new tuition assistance program will help improve childcare centers throughout the commonwealth. The Rising STARS Tuition Assistance Program will give current childcare center workers as much as $4,500 a year to pursue a related degree.
“We want to help them achieve those college credits… so that they can use that knowledge so that they can provide higher quality early learning experiences for the young children in childcare centers,” said DPW spokesperson Carey Miller.
Recipients would be asked to cover five percent of the tuition costs. The current state budget includes $5.5 million for the program.
The DPW hopes to be able to see improvement by keeping an eye on its childcare assessment program known as Keystone STARS. The program gives every center that chooses to take part, a ranking of one to four stars. To move into the three- and four-star categories, centers must employee an increasing percentage of workers with associates or bachelors degrees.
Miller said the state hopes to make sure “more children, especially those at risk, have access to quality learning experiences,” though the effort.
The childcare workers who accept the grants will have to continue to work with their current employer for at least two months for every credit earned through the program.
Applications for the program will be taken starting November 4th.