Childcare Workers at Kennedy Krieger Get Support to Pursue College, Better Lives

January 22, 2004
The Notre Dame/Kennedy Krieger partnership is a win-win all the way around

Baltimore - Working with children is one of the most sacred of professions, a job entrusted to individuals who often have a lasting impact on a child's behavioral, social and educational success. But low pay often keeps many qualified individuals from pursuing, or keeping, these jobs, or from pursuing college educations to advance their careers and lives. Recognizing these challenges, Kennedy Krieger Institute has launched an innovative program that makes it easier for employees who work with children to pursue their bachelor's degrees - on-site and tuition-free.

In conjunction with the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Kennedy Krieger has made it possible for employees interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree in elementary education to take courses, tuition-free, at its facility at PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs. At least half of the student teaching hours needed to fulfill the requirements for their bachelor of arts degrees in Liberal Studies/Elementary Education may be earned at one of PACT's three specialized childcare centers.

More than 20 employees have signed up for the first semester's classes, scheduled to begin Jan. 27. Kennedy Krieger will cover the up-front tuition costs for students participating in this program-and only those who receive a grade below a "C", fail to complete the course(s), or who leave the Institute prior to completing the semester will be required to reimburse the Institute for course costs.

"The Notre Dame/Kennedy Krieger partnership is a win-win all the way around," says Lana Warren, Kennedy Krieger's vice president of Clinical Programs and Inpatient Services. "Staff that might not think that college is a realistic possibility for them now have an opportunity at their fingertips. Our tuition plan allows them to do this with no out-of-pocket tuition costs, so money does not have to be a deterrent. This is also a tremendous win for Kennedy Krieger - we expect it to help reduce turn-over."

While the program was designed with the needs and aspirations of childcare workers in mind, all Kennedy Krieger employees with high school diplomas or GEDs were invited to apply. Kennedy Krieger hopes to eventually expand its partnership with the College of Notre Dame to include education degree classes at other Institute locations.

Weldon Harris, an assistant teacher at Kennedy Krieger's High School Career and Technology Center, jumped at the opportunity to enroll. "I've come to believe that not being professionally trained cheats my students," he says. "Plus, I'm so much more focused and goal-oriented than I was in high school."

Kennedy Krieger Institute is dedicated to helping children and adolescents with disabilities resulting from disorders of the brain achieve their potential and participate as fully as possible in family, community and school life. For more information, visit www.kennedykrieger.org.

Media Inquiries:

Allison Loritz, (443) 923-7330
Julie Lincoln, (443) 923-7334