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Deborah Mann Testifies to Congress About Workforce Development.

On Wednesday, Feb 7th, Deborah Mann, CEO of the Emmanuel Family & Child Development Center, testified before Congress about Emmanuel’s efforts to address the national childcare crisis through our unique workforce development program. Emmanuel launched an early childhood education training program in August of 2023 with a cohort of 27 participants with funding from the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Emmanuel is the ONLY provider in this region training participants for careers in early childhood education. By 2026, Emmanuel plans to train 125 staff for Child Development certification—a nationally recognized early childhood certification.

“Many people do not recognize that those working in the early childhood industry must be trained in early childhood development to provide the quality educational experience that prepares infants and toddlers for success in kindergarten,” said Deborah Mann. “The first five years of life are absolutely critical to educational success and a quality early childhood education can have an outsized impact on the entire life trajectory. Working in early childhood education is not a babysitting role. It is a vital opportunity to prepare a child emotionally, physically, mentally, and intellectually for healthy life relationships and success in school.”

Emmanuel’s workforce development program represents a career opportunity for participants who have completed a high school degree but have not been able to continue their education. Emmanuel opened a second cohort in January of this year with 23 participants enrolled.

Following completion of Emmanuel’s program, participants can enroll in the two-year, AA degree in child growth & development at Metropolitan Community College and will receive 9 credit hours towards this degree with their Child Development certification.

Emmanuel’s program is modeled after a similar pipeline program in California designed to address the challenge of recruiting qualified caregivers for employment in early childhood centers. The Family Conservancy of Kansas City, Kansas—along with other community partners—provides the training which includes 72 hours of curriculum training, 120 hours of competency-based Child Development Associate coursework, 4,770 hours of on-the-job learning, 36 hours of job-readiness skill-set training, and 40 hours of extensive portfolio documentation demonstrating competencies.

Additional workforce development partners include the Full-Employment Council who assist with providing compensation and incentives for participants throughout their training and four private childcare centers that will serve as training sites for the students: Kids in Christ Academy, LLC; Kids in Christ Preschool; Learn a Lot Academy; and Learning and Fun Preschool. These sites will also benefit from the opportunity to receive trained and certified teachers, thereby reducing the staffing shortage in our community.

“Our goal is to build a pipeline of trained and qualified early childhood teachers from our community who are under or unemployed,” said Mann.

Emmanuel recruits students from its Head Start, Pre-K Cooperative ranks and from unemployed or under-employed parents of the children currently enrolled at Emmanuel—98% of whom are classified as low-income and reside nearby. Emmanuel is also recruiting upper-level, low-income high school students who are interested in careers in early childhood education.


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