Students in the Southwestern Illinois College Early Childhood Education program now have the opportunity to qualify for several state-recognized credentials as they take courses toward their associate degree.
SWIC has been approved as an entitled institution for Gateways to Opportunity Infant and Toddler Credentials Level 2; ECE Credentials Level 2, 3 and 4; and Illinois Director Credential Level 1.
“This credentialing system allows students to be recognized for their work in courses as they seek their degree,” said SWIC ECE Program Coordinator Carolyn Beal. “These credentials mean students are meeting the highest professional standard.”
The Gateways to Opportunity is administered by the Illinois Network of Child Resources & Referral Agencies on behalf of the Illinois Department of Human Services.
The credentials mean that students have met specific criteria in each of these areas. Each Gateways Credential has components that include coursework and/or training, as well as work and practical experience. Gateways Credentials were created by practitioners, providers, and key stakeholders to support and recognize progressive levels of knowledge and skills in these areas.
Working with children, youths, and families requires specific knowledge and skillsets in order to provide high quality programs and services. Credentials validate that an individual has attained the knowledge and skills necessary to practice this profession. When hiring, some employers give priority to professionals who have earned these credentials, Beal said.
In order to earn these credentials, students must meet all academic criteria set by the college and the INCCRRA, then apply online to Gateways to Opportunity.
SWIC Offers a 66-semester-credit Associate in Applied Science Degree in Early Childhood Education which is equivalent to the ECE level 4 credential. The Early Childhood Level 3 Certificate is 27 semester credits; the Early Childhood Level 2 Certificate is 15 semester credits; and the Infant Toddler Level 2 Certificate 15 semester credits.