Donation helping Southwest Virginia community colleges improve early childhood education

By Colter Anstaett - Southside Bureau Reporter

DANVILLE (WSLS 10) - Danville Community College is now able to focus on helping people already working in the child care industry earn a career studies certificate to help them provide better care to the children they work with.

"[It] gives them a baseline about child development and really helps them understand how to choose activities that are appropriate for children and interact with children in positive and thought-provoking ways," said Martha Tucker, Assoc. Professor of Early Childhood Care and Reading at DCC.

Currently in Virginia, you don't have to have an education in child care in order to be a child care provider.

But, Tucker says she's hopeful now that child care workers will be able to get the certificate for almost free. Those who don't already have an education in child care will take advantage of this opportunity.

"We probably have 50 to 60 people in the community who could benefit from this," Tucker said.

DCC will also reach out to high school students considering a career in child care.

Davenport Energy and First Piedmont Corporation CEO Ben Davenport and his wife just donated $1 million to the Virginia Community College System for this effort. It will be given to the community colleges in the areas his companies serve.

"People have basically invested in us by buying from us. We'd like to invest back in them," Davenport explained.

He and his wife have been involved in early childhood education across the state for years.

"We both have concluded the biggest thing that can be done to improve early childhood education is to have trained workers," emphasized Davenport.

Patrick Henry, New River, and Virginia Western Community Colleges will receive part of the money as well.

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