Return to the Early Childhood & Family Policy program webpage
How does this program work?
Our program is offered 100% online, so you can engage anytime, anywhere!
The faculty in the Early Childhood & Family Policy graduate certificate program work collaboratively across four partner universities, providing diverse perspectives on the field, which will provide you with unique experiences you couldn’t get when taking classes from just one university.
Learn more about how this program works within the alliance.
How does this program equip students to advance policies related to early childhood and families?
The graduate certificate in Early Childhood & Family Policy seeks to certify individuals who are committed to working on behalf of children and families to evaluate, inform, create, and advocate for quality policies. Early childhood and family policy will advance the knowledge, skills, and competencies of those working on behalf of children and families, but perhaps not directly with them.
The graduate certificate seeks to prepare a diverse workforce who will think differently, lead in new ways, and tackle the policy, infrastructure, and advocacy challenges inspired by the present era of early childhood efforts. These future leaders will learn to understand and use data, think critically, and understand the nuances of the policymaking and implementation processes. Such skills require a deep understanding of the history of early childhood education, adult learning, institutional change, systems theory, economics, and/or political science — all requisite domains for affecting the considerable social change beckoned by early childhood and family policy.
What skills will I learn and practice through this program?
Through this program, you will develop many important skills that will aid you in advocating for children and families.
- Critical thinking regarding multi-culturally and multi-linguistically responsive practices and equitable child, family, and systemic outcomes
- Formal debate
- Survey creation, development, and analysis
- Communication of ideas both verbally and in writing to various audiences (e.g., memos, policy briefs, testimony)
- Application of research-based knowledge into practices
- Policy evaluation, analysis, and preparation
What organizations or industries will benefit from employees with this certificate?
Graduates of this program work across public, private, and nonprofit industries in areas such as:
- Local, state, or federal Departments of Education or Health and Human Services
- State or Federal Education Policy Organizations
- Legislative/congressional offices
- Judicial offices
- Social service agencies with advocacy departments
- Non-governmental agencies for education, health, mental health, housing, and legal services
- International agencies like the World Bank, United Nations, and the World Health Organization
- Family advocacy programs
- School districts
- Educational or family policy think tanks
- Philanthropic foundations
How do I know which university to choose as my home university?
There is a lot to consider when choosing your home university. Research the following to determine which university is the best fit for you:
- Requirements and timelines for admissions and graduation.
- Any policy for students who stop out due to unexpected life events but plan to return to the program after a semester or two.
- The degree title printed on your diploma is determined by the home university rather than the Great Plains IDEA program.
- Faculty research interests that might influence your decision.
How do I apply?
To become part of the certificate program, you must apply for admission as a student at one of the four universities partnering in the delivery of this program. The university where you are admitted will become your home university.
How long does it take to get a decision on my application?
Every university approaches the application process differently. Acceptance confirmation can vary from a few weeks to a few months depending on the university. Once you choose a home university, ask your campus coordinator about how that university processes applications.
How will I engage with faculty and students when we only attend classes online?
Being part of a virtual community provides opportunities an on-campus program never could. Interaction with learners and faculty from across the country allows you to learn from diverse perspectives.
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