Early Childhood Initiatives Center
Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center opened the Early Childhood Initiatives Center (ECIC) in 2009 as a place where all early childhood professionals can share knowledge, resources, and best practices to benefit the growth and education of young children. The goal is to improve quality of care and education in NW Arkansas for working families with children ages 0-5. The ECIC reaches beyond the 250 children we serve at our center to elevate the quality of care and education provided by the 507 Northwest Arkansas childcare programs to over 40,000 children in our region. We employ a 7-prong approach of professional and program development, accountability, resource and financial support, awareness, and advocacy to create systemic change towards state quality accreditation. Programs offered target 5 main areas: Leadership training, Early Childhood trainings, Health & Safety Trainings, Pre-Service training and Resource center services.
The need for well-qualified early childhood administrators in Northwest Arkansas continues to rise. Programs with strong leadership are essential in creating fiscally sound early childhood programs with learning environments that meet the new minimum licensing requirements. ECIC offers a training series designed for early childhood leaders, equipping them with tools to work toward Quality Accreditation along with business development, change management, human resources, and others.
Early Childhood Training
The ECIC invests in the early childhood teacher, center director and the early childhood program. Every year, over 2,500 early childhood professionals attend trainings on a variety of Early Childhood Education topics at the ECIC. Sessions are led by expert training staff, and are developed based on current topics in the early childhood field. Classes encourage reflection and discussion of new ideas, and participants are given ready to use resources and strategies to implement in the classroom.
Health Safety Training
Across the United States, nearly 25% of children will experience choking in a child care setting; 40% of children will experience a fall resulting in injury; almost 70% of children will experience a bite, abrasion, or cut requiring First Aid assistance. The ECIC’s Health and Safety Training Program ensures that Northwest Arkansas’ young children receive quality care and education in safe and healthy environments.
Turnover for new teachers is heavily attributed to high stress levels associated with being ill prepared to enter a classroom. Professionals new to the field lack the proper foundational knowledge to help them create a safe, appropriate environment for the children that they serve. Our Pre-Service Training Program ensures that new early childhood professionals receive detailed training on safety, minimum state licensing requirements and behavioral guidance before they enter a classroom.
The ECIC Resource Center is open to all early childcare and education facilities that participate in ECIC services. The center provides access to a full-time degreed early childhood professional, assistance with curriculum design, lesson planning, along with support and resources needed to implement the lesson plans.
Detailed information about the ECIC programs and the impact it has in NWA can be found here.