Tri-County ECE program receives grant

By Lisa Garrett
Tri-County Technical College

PENDLETON — Tri-County Technical College’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) program was awarded $22,500 from SC Endeavors to support academics, accreditation, supplies and professional development.

SC Endeavors is the professional development system for South Carolina’s early childhood workforce. Its mission is to support the continuous growth and improvement of early education programs and professionals to create positive outcomes for young children and their families in South Carolina.

TCTC received two distributions of funds to support the ECE program.

This year, SC Endeavors awarded the S.C. Technical College System’s Early Childhood Development programs $6,500 from the McDonald Early Education Support Fund.

This year, the Biden administration and Congress authorized additional funding to support early care and education, focusing on workforce education and compensation.

“I am pleased to announce that each South Carolina technical college will receive an additional $10,000 to focus on meeting early childhood program needs,” SC Endeavors state director Melissa G. Starker said.

This additional one-time distribution of $10,000 comes from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Stabilization fund.

TCTC also received an additional $6,000 for National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC) program accreditation support.

Last year, TCTC’s ECE program was among the 11 degree programs in the United States that earned renewed accreditation from the NAEYC Commission on the Accreditation of Early Childhood Higher Education Programs.

This additional funding will support the pursuit and maintenance of the program’s accreditation and will support bringing peer groups from across the state to collaborate on accreditation goals.

“Looking at the big picture, we will use funds to support professional development opportunities within NAEYC,” said Meredith Dickens, department head for public services in the Business and Public Services Division at TCTC.

ECE program director Kimberly Sharp and Dickens will attend the NAEYC spring conference through the Professional Learning Institute this summer.

“Attending the conference allows us to keep abreast of trends and collaborate with our peers,” Dickens said. “We return to campus with fresh ideas to support our learners in the classroom. We also are able to connect with colleagues nationwide.”

Funds supplement the professional development and growth of ECE students as well.

Last year ECE faculty and 10 students attended the South Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children’s Annual Conference in Columbia last year.

“This event allowed students and faculty to network and to share our passions for early education with like-minded peers,” Dickens said.

“These funds pay travel and conferences fees,” she added. “Students said this experience was a highlight of the academic year. Conference topics reinforced material learned in class. They felt connected to the profession.”

Funds can also be used to purchase classroom materials and resources, Dickens said.

“This year, we began our own lending library, whereby we purchase books that students can use when in student teaching and practicum experiences,” she said. “We also are building a student resource lending bank where students can check out resources, such as a portable light table, to create lessons.

“SC Endeavors is a longtime valued partner. We appreciate their commitment as a stakeholder and partner with our ECE program.”

Starker said SC Endeavors is “proud” of its partnerships and looks forward to working with TCTC in the future.

“Together, we are improving the quality of childcare for children and families in South Carolina,” she said.

Tri-County’s Early Childhood Development program is designed to prepare those entering the field of child care or those currently employed but seeking additional training. Graduates are employed as teachers in public and private early care settings, family day care homes and as teacher assistants in public schools. Many choose to continue their educations by pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, industrial electronics, mechatronics, nursing and university transfer programs.

Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top 1 percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities. To learn more, visit