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Early childhood educator scholarship could be a 'once in a lifetime opportunity'

Part-time or half-day preschools pose a challenge for many working parents.
Marko Poplasen
Part-time or half-day preschools pose a challenge for many working parents.

Time is running out for current or former early childhood education workers to take advantage of a unique chance to earn or upskill their credentials in the field.

Applications are still being accepted for the Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity scholarship program for the 2022-23 academic year.

"The scholarship was created especially to get those incumbent workers degreed so that they become not only qualified, but more marketable," said Lynne Costic, a higher education navigator with SAL Child Care Connection in Peoria.

The scholarship doesn't just cover the costs of a full year of tuition at a higher education institution.

"It would go through for cost of attendance, their transportation, books, anything like that," said higher education navigator Angela Cheney. "Anything above and beyond would just be money in their pockets, you know, going forward for continuing education."

Cheney said applying for federal student aid is the first step. The scholarship fills in any gaps not covered.

The scholarship program runs through June 2024. It's unclear if the program will be extended past then.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime for all individuals that are working in the early childhood field, as we all know that our workers in early childhood, they don't always have the financial means of being able to attend college. And so this is an opportunity for them to do so," said Costic.

Those seeking more information can call SAL Child Care Connection at (309) 686-3750.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.