TRAINING & TECHNICAL SERVICES
Nueces County Community Action Agency is committed to providing ongoing staff development activities for all employees. The Training & Technical Assistance (T & TA) department is responsible for assessing the training needs of employees and coordinating relevant training in each of the content areas.
Minimum Standards for Child Care Centers §746.1301 requires Head Start caregivers to earn a minimum of 15 annual clock hours in training; 20 annual clock hours for Center Directors. Additionally, caregivers must satisfy eight hours of pre-service training and attend an initial orientation upon starting their position within the program. Head Start staff members meet and exceed annual training requirements in order to be well prepared to address multiple issues in a variety of contexts.
Annual training needs are determined by combining the input of several sources. At the end of the school year, a training needs assessment is administered to all Head Start staff members. The results of the assessment, combined with the identification of program goals by content area specialists, are applied towards prioritizing training needs. In-service training is conducted for all staff members on a monthly basis, with a week of pre-service training conducted in August.
Head Start centers are divided into three “color clusters” for in-service training. Three consecutive half days of training are reserved for the presentation of a minimum of two topics. Color clusters attend training for one half day designated on the Agency calendar. Dividing Head Start centers into training clusters enables staff to attend training in the setting of a smaller group, where concerns and questions are more likely to be directly addressed.
S.E.T. (Specialized Education Training) provides individualized training for classroom staff based on the areas of need defined in the Training Needs Assessment. The monthly training sessions for small groups are attended by new staff members and/or veteran teachers who have expressed a desire to receive additional training on a particular topic.
Head Start teachers and assistant teachers are also provided opportunities to serve as trainers. The abilities and experiences of Head Start staff serve as an invaluable resource. Sharing knowledge and ideas with peers is empowering and beneficial. A “Training of Trainers” program helps to prepare teachers as potential session presenters.
In addition, Head Start provides ongoing individualized training for staff members. Content area specialists continuously offer on-site technical assistance in an effort to strengthen the program.
External training in the form of workshops or conferences enable individual staff members to receive extensive, in-depth training in a defined area of need.
Head Start is dedicated to improving the quality of instruction provided by classroom teachers by setting high standards for teacher qualifications.
According to the Head Start Act, Sec. 648 (a)(2), as of September 2003, at least 50% of all Head Start teachers nationwide in center-based programs must have an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or advanced degree in Early Childhood Education/Development or a degree in a related field and experience in teaching preschool children.
In an effort to comply with the Head Start Act and contribute to the professional development and personal growth of employees, Nueces County Community Action Agency has enacted an Educational Assistance Program to assist Head Start teachers in earning a higher degree. Provisions of the Educational Assistance Program allow for payment of tuition, fees, and books for teachers earning college credits towards the attainment of an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education or a related field. All Head Start staff are informed about opportunities for scholarships, grants, and other programs which may help to further their professional and personal goals.
As of March 2004, 56% of NCCAA Head Start teachers have earned an Associate’s degree or higher in Early Childhood Education or a related field. Many others are diligently working towards completing a degree, proving that Head Start teachers constantly strive to meet and exceed any challenge which may arise.