Early Childhood & Family Policy Online Graduate Certificate

Program Summary
Cost per credit hour:

2023-2024: $600
2024-2025: $610
Learn more about Tuition and Cost

12 Hours

The Online Early Childhood & Family Policy Graduate Certificate empowers those who are committed to working on behalf of young children and their families domestically and internationally. This innovative curriculum provides optimum flexibility through online courses offered in 8-week sessions so you only have to focus on one course at a time.

In just four courses, students develop essential policy skills and understand the interrelationship of early childhood and family policies from a range of systems such as health care, education, family leave, mental health, child abuse and neglect, incarceration of parents, and minimum wage.

Society and its policymakers are becoming more and more focused on the importance of the early years and the need for quality services that are distributed equitably and sustainably over time. This graduate certificate places individuals at the helm of framing a new era for early childhood policy.

FAQs for Early Childhood and Family Policy

Why study Early Childhood and Family Policy through Great Plains IDEA?

Our cutting-edge program prepares you to evaluate, inform, create, and advocate for substantial, durable, and equitable policy changes that benefit young children. Courses are rich with experiential learning opportunities that include interactions with instructors, classmates, and professionals working in the field. This unique style of networking will help you find creative ways to honor diverse cultures and allow for multiple implementation approaches to infrastructure and policy. 

This innovative 12-credit graduate certificate program includes four 8-week courses that can be completed in just two semesters. The curriculum will guide you through how to use data and research to advocate for constructive policies and understand the nuances of policymaking and its implementation processes.

Our Students are Passionate about Social Change

You don't need extensive experience or background knowledge about policy or early childhood education. You simply need to be passionate about advocating for social change and have a desire to improve the quality of life for all young children and their families. 

This graduate certificate is ideal for those working in early childhood centers, elementary schools, social work, public health, public affairs, or political science. Whether you have a home daycare or are an administrator in a school district, this curriculum will teach you how education and family policies are organized and constructed, and how you can become an influencer at the local, state, or federal level.

Early Childhood and Family Policy Program Format

The Early Childhood & Family Policy graduate certificate is an innovative 12-credit program sequenced in four 8-week courses that can be completed in two semesters. Courses are taught online with occasional opportunities to enhance engagement through virtual networking events, guest speakers, or participation in formal debates. Experiential learning opportunities are embedded into each course to promote hands-on learning that helps translate coursework to your career.

The four courses are offered in the following order, starting in the fall semester. 

  1. History, Child Development, and Equity
  2. Examining Practices, Policies, and Key Issues
  3. Theory, Analysis, and Research
  4. Policy, Leadership, and Policy Advocacy

Certificate titles vary by university. Consult with your selected home university for the title as it will appear on the certificate.

View the Course List for the Graduate Certificate

Rewarding Career Opportunities in Early Childhood and Family Policy

A graduate certificate in Early Childhood & Family Policy from Great Plains IDEA  prepares you to be an advocate for those who cannot do it for themselves. It may also provide opportunities to advance into leadership positions like executive director, supervisor, program manager, or program developer.

The curriculum provides real-world applications that can benefit people working in a variety of fields 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

ECFP Advisory Board

Our advisory board consists of partners from policy agencies, research institutes focused on early childhood and family policy, and government programs such as state and national departments of education or health and human services. These board members provide guidance in creating authentic experiential learning opportunities, participate as guest speakers in virtual sessions, and act as a liaison between our program and their field.

Affordable and Flexible 

Great Plains IDEA is dedicated to providing affordable online education, offering a common price per credit hour at all universities regardless of degree program or course and whether in or out of state. Learn more about Great Plains IDEA on our How It Works page.

Collaborate with Expert Faculty

Great Plains IDEA’s ECFP faculty come from six different home universities, providing a range of perspectives and experiences. They are dedicated to your success and collaborate together to bring you a unique, dynamic curriculum. Faculty are experts in online instruction and premier researchers in early childhood and family policy. Many serve as consultants or elected leaders for national and state organizations informing and designing policy. Get to know more about the ECFP faculty members at the bottom of this webpage.

Degree Accreditation

All Great Plains IDEA member universities are accredited by regional agencies, aligning with requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education. This ensures that students pursuing their degrees through Great Plains IDEA are met with a high standard of academic excellence.

The following member universities offer the ECFP graduate certificate program and hold regional accreditation:

Learn more about the accreditation of our member universities.

Transform Policy for Children and Families with a Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood and Family Policy

Great Plains IDEA's online Early Childhood and Family Policy graduate certificate prepares you to escalate your career through support and advocacy for young children and their families in diverse, ever-evolving settings and contexts. 

Ready to get started? Learn how to apply now!

This 12-credit graduate certificate empowers students to advocate for high-quality, educational and family policies on behalf of young children and their families. Made up of four courses that are each eight weeks long, this program can be completed in as little as two semesters.

University Contact
These campus coordinators can help you navigate Great Plains IDEA. Click on the university name to learn more about how Great Plains IDEA works at that campus. Iowa State Online
Meagan Rau
Ashlee Murden
University of Mississippi
Kenya Wolff
Janice Clawson
Lisa King
University Members
Members of the Great Plains IDEA are universities accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Member universities recruit, admit and graduate students, teach in an academic program and contribute to the leadership and maintenance of the alliance. Membership in the alliance is a selective process that engages institutional leadership at all levels.

Macy Burgess is a graduate of the family and community services degree.I made the decision to switch specializations in my master’s program mid-way through my degree. This change took me from the traditional on-campus experience to the Great Plains IDEA online experience. The switch seemed intimidating to me but it ended up being an incredible experience that I would not have gotten if I'd taken all classes at one university. Getting to dive into courses offered at schools all over the country was beneficial as it opened pathways for communication and sharing of knowledge with students and faculty I would not normally have interacted with. 

– – Macy Burgess, Family and Community Services Graduate Student,
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