Children and Families Program's 800% growth is just a start

Children and Families Program's 800% growth is just a start

Children play with a life-sized Minion

In 2012, two years after its founding, the HFC Children and Families Program had only 24 students enrolled. Today, more than 200 are enrolled.

A lot of the growth is attributable to the leadership of Marlene White, the director of the CFP. White, who has more than 35 years of experience in early childhood education, became the director in 2012.

“I went out into the community, where I began collaborating with many early childhood organizations that sponsored Head Start programs,” said White.

A native of Detroit, White attended Pershing High School. She earned her undergraduate degree in education from Marygrove College and her graduate degree in early childhood education from what is now the University of Detroit Mercy. Currently, White is only four classes away from completing her doctorate in early childhood education at Wayne State University. Throughout her career, she has been a teacher, professor, consultant, Head Start site leader, and mentor.

The CFP offers courses that lead to the fulfillment of the required hours needed to obtain a Child Development Associate credential, which is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education and a key milestone in the profession. The CDA credential is based on a core set of competency standards, guiding early childhood professionals as they work toward becoming qualified teachers of young children. To date, more than 420,000 educators have a CDA credential.

According to White, there is increased interest in the CFP because early childhood education funding at the state and federal levels requires a CDA credential. CFP students often do their practicum with one of HFC’s many collaborative partners, which usually leads to employment upon graduation.

NAEYC accreditation is a step forward

The CFP is currently undergoing accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The NAEYC awards accreditation to early childhood associate degree programs, bachelor’s degree programs, and master’s degree programs that demonstrate evidence of excellence by meeting the NAEYC Professional Preparation Standards. The NAEYC Accreditation process provides a framework of self-study, external evaluation, and improvement in the quality of teacher preparation programs.

According to White, the NAEYC accreditation process at HFC will be completed by the end of 2018. A site visit by the NAEYC is scheduled for the spring of 2019.

The Early Childhood Student Club began in the 2017-18 academic year. In the Fall 2017 semester alone, the club held two bake sales and a coat drive. It also donated supplies to the relief effort in Puerto Rico. In the Winter 2018 semester, they volunteered at Arts & Scraps, a Detroit non-profit organization that recycles 28 tons of material to help 275,000 children think, create, and learn on an annual basis.

“I’m very surprised and happy for the members of this club,” said White.

Family Literacy event has community roots

On April 21, the CFP hosted its 3rd Annual Family Literacy Event. This event supports literacy in the community, and through a variety of hands-on activities for children ages 1-8, parents are encouraged to participate and be actively involved in their children’s literacy experiences.

The event volunteers included HFC faculty, CFP part-time faculty, CFP students, the Early Childhood Student Club, the Teacher Education Club, and members of the Wayne State football team. More than 20 baskets filled with family focused prizes were raffled off at the end of the event. Lucky families won baskets donated by organizations and businesses such as Skore Lanes in Taylor, the Detroit Police Department, Midway Sports & Entertainment in Taylor, the Early Childhood Student Club, the Detroit Historical Museum, and others.

“This is one of the biggest events on campus in terms of sheer numbers,” said White. “Last year, we had just about 300. This year, we reached 350 people. I’m very grateful for the community's generosity.”

Currently, White is working on maintaining early childhood articulation agreements with early childhood education programs at UDM, Eastern Michigan University, Madonna University, and Rochester College.

“Good things are happening for the Children and Families Program at HFC,” said White. “And I couldn’t be happier.”