The One Chattanooga Institute for Early Care and Learning will strengthen the early learning workforce while equipping students with the skills they need to succeed in a stable career
The City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County Schools today announced the launch of a new Future Ready Institute for early childhood education, which will help build a new pipeline of critically needed early learning professionals while providing high school students with a direct path to a stable career.
Located at Tyner Academy, the One Chattanooga Institute of Early Care and Learning will accept its inaugural freshman cohort beginning this fall. Participating students will earn their child development associate credential upon graduation, making them immediately employable by early learning centers across the city.
“As the workers who enable parents to work, early learning professionals are essential to the strength of our economy and to the future success of Chattanooga’s youngest residents,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly. “That’s why it’s critical for us to work together to strengthen the early learning workforce, so parents from every neighborhood can go to work knowing their young children are nurtured, cared for, and ready to succeed when they start kindergarten. This new Future Ready Institute will help make that possible for students and working families across Chattanooga, while also creating workforce opportunities for early learning professionals themselves.”
The COVID-19 pandemic led to an acute shortage of early learning professionals in cities across the country, including Chattanooga, a shortage that has prevented parents – and new mothers in particular – from returning to work.
The Kelly administration is investing $1 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to support the new institute for the next five years, as part of Kelly’s One Chattanooga Relief and Recovery Plan.
“Community partnerships like the one being announced today are critical to the future success of our students and the growth of our community,” said HCS Superintendent Dr. Justin Robertson. “Creating new opportunities for our Future Ready Institutes and Career and Technical Education students will elevate our programs to the next level, while the support of early learning centers will help assure that our students are fully ready to take advantage of those opportunities when they begin school. As the One Chattanooga Institute of Early Care and Learning moves forward, it will create a new pipeline of potential job candidates that will help put great teachers in front of every child.”
With the launch of the new institute, a number of early learning centers and providers have already agreed to assist with job shadowing and post-graduation job placements, including Chattanooga Head Start, Purpose Point Learning Academy, Pneuma Christian Center, 21st Century Child Development Center and Champion Christian Learning Academy.
These ongoing partnerships between the City, Hamilton County Schools, and the early childhood education workforce will strengthen students’ pathways to a successful early learning career and support the community for years to come. Early learning providers who would like to get involved in the program may submit a request at //cha.city/earlylearninginstitute.
“Creating quality learning environments for our youngest learners while simultaneously providing career paths for students in our high schools will have a positive impact on Hamilton County families, our economy, and the future of our workforce,” said Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp.
Building a universal path to early learning is one of the primary goals of Mayor Tim Kelly’s One Chattanooga plan.
In addition to the launch of the One Chattanooga Institute of Early Care and Learning, Kelly has also supported the creation of 200 new early learning seats, which will be coming online over the coming year. The City also began supplementing pay for Head Start teachers, to ensure they make a living-wage that will support their own families.