Hudgens Early Education Center to Add Certified Professionals to Childcare Field
Partners Support New Facility in Plans to Boost Education, Business Outlook
With the upcoming groundbreaking of the D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center on the campus of Gwinnett Technical College, standards of quality care in childhood education centers is going to get a much-needed boost, which will, in turn, bolster the business outlook in the region as well.
Children are born learning. In fact, studies confirm that the greatest period of a child’s brain development occurs by age two or three. Research also indicates that children who are exposed to high quality early education environments – ones in which teachers are well educated and child-to-teacher ratios are low – perform better in kindergarten and are more successful throughout their entire lives.
Over the long haul, that has significant implications for the region’s business forecast. Business leaders may be surprised to learn how poor-quality child care can affect workplace productivity. The Child Care Action Council found that absenteeism caused by poor-quality child care costs American businesses more than $3 billion a year.
Poor quality learning environments also cost taxpayers. According to the High/Scope Perry Preschool Study, every dollar invested in early learning saves $17.00 in remedial education, welfare and prison costs in the future. The High/Scope study also determined that investments in quality child care and education for children ages birth through five provided a return of 16 percent – twice as much as a long-term investment in the stock market.
These investments have enduring consequences. Low-income children who experience quality early education are 30 percent more likely to graduate from high school than children who do not. Over a lifetime, high school graduates earn $200,000 more than non-graduates, who are also more likely to be unemployed. Providing high quality early education now results in a well-prepared future workforce.
“Research indicates that when you invest in providing quality education for teachers through certifications and training, you impact not only education overall – at all levels throughout the system – but also provide opportunities for students to succeed in the classroom and in the workforce,” said Mary Beth Byerly, executive director, institutional advancement, Gwinnett Tech. “And what you end up with is a win-win-win solution for the region – with students excelling, school systems strengthening and businesses being attracted to the area for a sought-after workforce. Gwinnnett Tech’s new D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center is the perfect location to cultivate this type of much-needed relational link for individuals, schools and businesses.”
The groundbreaking for the 26,000-plus, state-of-the-art facility is scheduled for Thursday, August 25, at 10am on the Lawrenceville campus.
Following National Association for the Education of the Young Child (NAEYC) accreditation standards, the D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center, which will be located next to The Busbee Center on Gwinnett Tech’s campus, will be able to accommodate up to 220 children. The center is scheduled to open July 2006.
“The business community understands the importance of quality childhood education training and facilities,” said Byerly. “And it has certainly stepped up to the plate to help fund this project.”
To date, the privately-funded $6.7 million project, has received its major source of contributions from the Scott Hudgens Family foundation, as well as other individuals, businesses, foundations, corporations and education-focused entities like Smart Start Georgia and Early Learning Property Management.
“Early learning centers that demonstrate the highest standards, such as those that will be met by the D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Center, make a tremendous impact on the lives of young children,” said Sharen Hausmann, executive director of Smart Start Georgia. “In addition to being prepared for kindergarten, these children will be more likely to succeed throughout their lifetime. By focusing on the education of its youngest children, Gwinnett County is paving the way for a very bright future and Smart Start Georgia is proud to be part of that.”
Gwinnett Tech began offering a two-year associate’s degree in early childhood care and education in 2003. The addition of the early education center will further develop the college’s role as a leader in training the early childhood workforce of Gwinnett County. It will serve as a model with a number of purposes, including simulating a ‘lab’ for giving students hands-on experiences in a quality center, as well as providing a research site for learning and understanding children. Equipped with observation facilities, the center will also be used as a model for other centers in the community, and will provide a safe, quality learning environment for Gwinnett’s youngest citizens.
The education center will also remove barriers to education for some of the students who are attending Gwinnett Tech. “Students can enroll their children in the center while they complete their studies, so they can secure the skills and training necessary for them to become economically self-sufficient,” said Byerly.
For more information about the D. Scott Hudgens, Jr. Early Education Center at Gwinnett Tech, or how you or your organization can contribute to the project, contact the institutional advancement office at 678-226-6738.