Career Services’ NACTEP offers child development certification
Cherokee Nation citizen and teacher Jessica Bluebird interacts with students from her class of 0- to 3-year-olds at the CN Early Childhood Unit in Tahlequah. Bluebird received her Child Development Associate certification earlier this year through Career Services’ Native American Career Technology Program. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – The Native American Career Technology Program, administered by the tribe’s Career Services, annually offers free comprehensive Child Development Associate certification for center-based staff and home providers in October and April.
The CDA is a national credential that demonstrates knowledge and skills in working with young children and is administered by the Council for Professional Recognition.
Five applicants are selected per class and participate in 120 hours of classroom instruction, hands-on classroom experience and receive a CDA Competency Standards book.
CN citizen Jessica Bluebird, who started the program in October 2017, is now a full-time employee at the CN Early Child Unit in Tahlequah.
“Why I wanted to do the classes was kind of random. I played sports in college, and whenever I got hurt I wasn’t able to play anymore. So I had to get a job. I got a job at a daycare, and I realized I liked working with kids. So then my boss at the time told that if I got my CDA I’d be able to get a higher pay. So I looked into the NACTEP here at Cherokee Nation to see about getting my CDA and I was able to do it,” she said.
Bluebird said she went through a ladder of credentials, including obtaining a food handler’s license, learning about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and safe sleep, early learning guidelines for infants, toddlers and preschool aged children, as well as financial management.
George Roach, CN director of vocational programs, said Bluebird is qualified to run her own daycare if she decided to.
“She’s not just an employee. She is qualified. That’s why she had the food handler’s license, the credential learning how to handle infants and the little older ones, all ages. So she can run a daycare of her own if she chooses to do that,” Roach said.
Aside from earning credentials, participants are in classes 40 hours per week Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the CN Child Care Resource Center. They are also paid a stipend
To qualify, a participant must be Native American, at least 18 years of age and undergo an interview process.
Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. The next selections will be made for the April classes. For more information, call 918-453-5555.