A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education (COE) early childhood instructor has been awarded $1.3 million from the Early Educator Investment Collaborative (EEIC). Under the direction of Theresa Lock, who is in the Institute for Teacher Education (ITE), the two-year grant program, Hawaiʻi Early Childhood Educator Excellence and Equity (Hawaiʻi ECE3) Project, will develop, expand and implement innovative approaches and dismantle structural barriers to early childhood education workforce preparation and compensation.
Lock will work in close coordination with more than 20 partner agencies, including the Hawaiʻi Teacher Standards Board, Executive Office on Early Learning, Early Learning Board, Honolulu Community College, Chaminade University, INPEACE and Kamehameha Schools.
“For decades, training and compensation for the early care and education workforce in Hawaiʻi have been sorely neglected,” Lock stated. “This is especially evident among those serving infants through preschool. Well-prepared and well-compensated teachers will ensure that all children make significant and sustained gains in physical, cognitive, social and emotional development.”
Hawaiʻi ECE3 will establish “The Center” at COE to coordinate Hawaiʻi’s innovative educator preparation program reforms. The Center will work with a coalition of interdisciplinary partners to coordinate and complete two major activities: 1. A statewide teacher career pathway from recruitment to induction for students from diverse backgrounds to attain their early childhood education associate and bachelor degrees; and 2. An early childhood workforce compensation equity plan to better understand how to build options for competitive compensation for early childhood education lead teachers.
“By almost all measures, Hawaiʻi lags behind the rest of the nation in providing access to high-quality early childhood education programs, particularly for children and families most in need,” Lock continued. “This funding opportunity is the accelerant we need to spark a fire of transformation to improve our state’s early childhood workforce system.”
ITE Elementary Director Kuʻulei Serna said, “Hawaiʻi is incredibly blessed to receive this grant among a highly competitive pool of applicants. I couldn’t think of a more qualified person than Dr. Lock to direct the ECE3 Project. The Center’s activities will unify multiple sectors of our community to transform early childhood education in Hawaiʻi. Dr. Lock’s hard work in cooperation with other professionals across the state as well as public-private partnerships are invaluable and will greatly benefit Hawaiʻi’s children, families and the early childhood education profession.”
Part of an EEIC Transforming Early Childhood Education Lead Teacher Preparation Grant, the project is also supported by local matching funds and in-kind support from the COE, Executive Office on Early Learning, Kamehameha Schools, Samuel N. & Mary Castle Foundation and the Kōaniani Fund at the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation.
This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.