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Tuition reimbursement program seeks to address preschool education workforce gap in NH

Student-teacher ratio is one component of high-quality preschool.
Barnaby Wasson
Student-teacher ratio is one component of high-quality preschool.

The University of New Hampshire’s College of Professional Studies is promoting a $500,000 Preschool Development Grant for students interested in early childhood education.

The grant offers tuition reimbursement for students who want to study and eventually work in areas with big workforce gaps in New Hampshire, such as infant and toddler development, early childhood special needs, and positive behavior guidance.

Diana Menard, the child and family studies department chair at NHTI, is in charge of the grant. She says historically the grant has supported the professional goals of aspiring educators, but now this initiative aims to address the growing demands in the field in the state.

She says the pandemic left a huge labor gap in this sector, with a workforce that left the field because of low salaries and strenuous work. She hopes this grant will encourage students to remain in the field.

“Early childhood was an essential workforce during the pandemic; many left because of exhaustion and not being paid an adequate salary,” she said. “Until we can look at the wage issue, we will struggle to make people enter the field and stay.”

The money comes from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services through the Early Childhood Education Assistance program. The Community College System of New Hampshire will select the award winners.

Winners must enroll in related courses in one of the state’s seven community colleges or three universities. The money can also be used for practical experience for people pursuing associate degrees.

Qualifying students must work at least 20 hours per week in a state-licensed early childhood program and could obtain full tuition for up to two classes per term. Students will be eligible for one award per semester. The program will be available just for this fall.

Students are responsible for all other expenses, including tuition balances, books and fees.

More information about how to apply for the grant here.

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.
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