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Thursday, Apr 25 2013 11:00 PM

CHRISTINE LOLLAR: Supporting early childhood education is this council's job

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    Christine Lollar

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"ECCK" sounds more like a toddler's expletive after his first taste of peas. In this case, the acronym ECCK stands only for something positive: the Early Childhood Council of Kern -- like the taste of a sweet apple in summer!

The council is charged with educating the community about the importance of quality early learning experiences for young children. Our advisers also work with the county and its 11 incorporated cities to increase quality early childhood services to communities, through needs assessments and child care language suggestions for general plans. As advocates, members of the council provide position statements on early childhood issues as they arise.

One staff member, Tammy Burns, our child care facilitator, supports the 30-member council. One of her jobs is distributing educational stipends of more than $280,000 for early education professionals. She also coordinates a number of early education trainings and workshops.

An example of the council's effort is the recent annual Kern County Infant Toddler Seminar, held March 9. More than 200 participants descended upon the Superintendent of Schools' Reider Center and Learning Center to network, learn and expand their skills. Workshops (in English and Spanish) included "Sign Language in Early Education," "Going Green," "Music and Movement," and "Engaging Parents in Play." Three dozen presenters and vendors were on hand to serve those who usually are servers themselves.

"We have the event on Saturday for a half-day to best accommodate these professionals and their very busy lives," Tammy tells me.

The council works to assist these educators in obtaining professional growth hours needed for their permits and the stipend program.

Monthly meetings are held the first Wednesday of most months and are open to the public. They serve as a forum for the discussion of any matters related to early childhood education.

Council members are usually appointed by either a member of the Kern County Board of Supervisors or the Kern County superintendent of schools, and they attend a monthly two-hour meeting and participate on various subcommittees.

Several vacancies are open, including consumer and provider positions with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools; a child care consumer position in Kern County's 2nd District; and a community member position in the 5th District.

For more information or to participate, call 861-5274 or email taburns@kern.org.

Christine Lollar is the resource development manager for Independent Living Center of Kern County.

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