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New Mexico State's early childhood program pilots new certification online

New Mexico State University faculty members are piloting a new online version of a certification program for child-care workers specializing in infant and toddler care.



Julie Hernandez, director of Jardin de Los Ninos, a Las Cruces child-care center, enjoys time in her center's infant room with Serena Carizosa, left, and Jayden Miranda. Hernandez is participating in a new online version of a certification program for ..

$30,000 grant from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, Nancy Baptiste, an early childhood professor at New Mexico State, is working with an interdisciplinary team including technology and early childhood specialists to offer the three-course certification from the state Office of Child Development online.


Betsy Cahill, an associate department head for curriculum and instruction at New Mexico State, developed the competencies and outlined course content for the Office of Child Development and the certification was offered for the first time last summer at San Juan Community College.

New Mexico State is piloting the effort to make the certification courses available online. Eight students are participating in the pilot project and recently started the second course being offered through Web-based instruction.

"More and more we see infants and toddlers in child care, so we need professionals to work with them and their families. We really do have a body of knowledge about the care and development of infants and toddlers," Baptiste said. "We need professional development like this to ensure that body of knowledge gets disseminated."

Participant Julie Hernandez, director of Jardin de Los Ninos, a child-care center for homeless and near homeless children in Las Cruces, said the certification will be a benefit to her professionally. She has 24 infants and toddlers in three classrooms and said that the courses for the certification have helped her develop practical methods for putting ideas into practice.

"The online courses are very convenient," she said. "It's really made it possible to obtain the certification." She said she hopes that receiving the certification will inspire her care givers to go back to school or continue their own professional development in infant and toddler care.

Baptiste said the pilot project will be completed in September and then they will look at institutionalizing the certification at New Mexico State.

"We want to be able to offer the courses statewide through distance education," she said.

The online pilot project is part of New Mexico State's Dove Learning Center in the College of Education's Curriculum and Instruction Department. The learning center works with public school systems for professional development training, partners on a community-based fatherhood initiative and runs the university's preschool.

For more information contact Baptiste at (505) 646-2632.

Photo is available at http://ucommphoto.nmsu.edu/newsphoto/hernandez_ninos.jpg.
CUTLINE: Julie Hernandez, director of Jardin de Los Ninos, a Las Cruces child-care center, enjoys time in her center's infant room with Serena Carizosa, left, and Jayden Miranda. Hernandez is participating in a new online version of a certification program for child-care workers specializing in infant and toddler care being piloted by New Mexico State University early childhood faculty. (New Mexico State University photo by Darren Phillips)

Julie M. Hughes
July 26, 2002