A program teaching students at Keene High School’s Cheshire Career Center how to care for infants and toddlers in a daycare setting is getting shelved after state officials said it does not meet the aim of the career education program.

“The state competencies have changed,” said Samantha Belcourt, director of the Cheshire Career Center.

A recent state review of the center’s Careers in Education program found that the infant daycare program was the only option given to students.

“The Education Consultant from our office identified a compliance concern with your program – Careers in Education – as it focuses almost exclusively on preschool and early childhood education,” wrote Eric Frauwirth, an administrator with the New Hampshire Department of Education’s Bureau of Career Development.

Belcourt said the state wants to see the career center offer courses on becoming a teacher or guidance counselor, rather than the sole option of being a daycare worker. The Cheshire Career Center is supposed to give students the skills and education they need to pursue well-paying professions.

“Being a daycare worker is not a high paying job,” Belcourt said. “It’s not the intent of the career center program.”

Because the daycare program is outside of the state guidelines, Frauwirth informed Belcourt that continuing to offer infant daycare as a class could put the center’s funding in jeopardy.

“In order for CTE programs to be eligible for Federal Perkins funds, they are required to meet qualifications detailed in the legislation: high wage, high skill, in-demand careers. Under these requirements, a program focusing on pre-school and early childhood education would not be eligible, primarily due to the current wage level for employees,” Frauwirth wrote.

The Cheshire Career Center relies on about $180,000 a year in federal Perkins funds spread across 19 programs. Belcourt said that if the Careers in Education program does not change, the funding could be withdrawn.

The infant care program started in the 1970s, Belcourt said, and its aim was to help pregnant students at Keene High School, giving them a child care option that would allow them to continue their education, while at the same time preparing other students to work in daycares by having them shadow daycare workers in the center and work with the infants.

In the decades since it started, the teen pregnancy rates have dropped drastically and the center has morphed into a subsidized daycare option of district staff. There are currently five children in the program, and Belcourt said no other career education center in New Hampshire currently offers an infant daycare program.

“It’s not a sustainable program,” Belcourt said.

Belcourt is looking forward to making the necessary changes to the Careers in Education program to bring it back into compliance, and get students the opportunity for a well-paying career in the education field.{/div}

Thursday, May 06, 2021
Monday, May 03, 2021