The California Early Childhood Mentor Program promotes and encourages relationship-based development of children and young people, pointing to such relationships as being key to increasing the quality and value of the environment of early childhood education (ECE). The program provides a combination of benefits designed to achieve a high quality workforce in the area of ECE, including activities for integrating theory and practice, and providing support to administrators and teachers.
Activities offered by the program promote success among college students who want to be teachers, and encourage improved practices by administrators by supporting their management and leadership pursuits. The program also supports the professional growth of both director mentors and mentor teachers, by improving income ratios, increasing professional recognition, offering development opportunities, and supporting flexible options for completing practicums, thereby offering more regular completion of degrees and certificates in various institutions of higher learning.
It joins remuneration to improved access to professional education and development opportunities for both program administrators and classroom teachers. To accomplish this goal, the program chooses experienced classroom teachers, and pairs them as mentors to help student teachers from community colleges and 4-year early childhood programs. Mentors are paid a stipend to convert their classrooms into top-quality training environment. The amount of the stipend depends on the number of hours the teachers spend mentoring student teachers, and student teachers receive academic credit for the practicum requirements their training institutions require.
The program recruits teachers who have worked for at least two years in a family child care home or an early childhood classroom. Mentors must have completed a training program in early childhood education that had a supervised teaching course included in the curriculum. Teachers must be eligible for at least the Master Teacher level of the California Child Development Permit. To apply for the program, teachers must finish a course in classroom evaluation and adult supervision skills, which is offered by community colleges that participate in the mentor program. Instructors from local community colleges as well as teachers, directors, and professionals from the child development community are recruited to review applications and evaluate each applicant's classrooms.
After the mentors are selected, student teachers are placed in their classrooms. Mentors participate in simultaneous activities that contribute to their ongoing professional development, such as monthly training seminars, public speaking engagements, and the Mentor Institute. The program's emphasis on access to training, provision of professional development opportunities, and stipends for participation, is intended to give experienced teachers new career opportunities, decrease turnover in the teaching community, and improve the overall quality of child care and education.
The mission of the California Early Childhood Mentor Program is to offer guidance, technical assistance, training, and financial compensation, sufficient enough to develop, maintain, and expand high-quality local mentoring programs for teachers; to provide professional development opportunities and increased income for participants; to support a wide variety of training encounters using relationship-based development; and to seek new ongoing opportunities for offering relevant mentoring services to the early childhood education community.