female teacher standing in a classroom of young children smiling

The University of New Hampshire (UNH) will increase its offerings of tuition-free early childhood education courses for NH childcare workers, thanks to $1 million in grant funding through NH’s Preschool Development Grant (PDG), a competitive award from US DHHS Administration for Children and Families.  

Nicole Fragala and Kathleen Shumway-Pitt, both of the UNH College of Professional Studies Center for Educator Preparation, partnered with Kimberly Nesbitt and Meredith O’Shea, both of the UNH College of Health and Human Services Department of Human Development and Family Studies, to apply for the funding to expand the free courses offered to those working in New Hampshire’s early care and education field. This partnership broadens a previous state-funded program, the Early Childhood Tuition Assistance (ECTA) grant, by extending eligibility to the workforce providing comprehensive services to young children and families, including those working in after-school programs, school paraprofessionals, and high school students working in the field. 

“Strengthening career pathways and professional development opportunities helps build a pipeline of effective early educators,” says O’Shea, “and supports equitable access to qualified teachers for children across settings and ages. The benefits to children and caregivers are enormous.”  

“Quality childcare and early childhood education play crucial roles in supporting New Hampshire families,” says Fragala. “By expanding access to tuition assistance, UNH is helping to ensure that providers are professionally prepared, which helps promote not only their own career development but the stability of our workforce.” 

The PDG funding augments opportunities provided by the ECTA program, funded by NH DHHS Bureau of Child Development and Head Start Collaboration, and administered by UNH College of Professional Studies which aims to reduce barriers for prospective and current teachers to enter and/or remain in the field. Details and application information are available at https://cps-info.unh.edu/ecta-pdg.