Jill Behnke Appointed to Statewide Committee

Child Development instructor will review child care center and family child care provider curricula for Parent Aware Rating Tool.

Jill Behnke, an instructor in the Childhood Development program at Dakota County Technical College, received an important appointment to the Curriculum Review Committee, an eight-member committee selected from a pool of accomplished Minnesota educators by the state’s departments of Human Services and Education.

“Our committee will make recommendations that will be used to approve curricula for theParent Aware Rating Tool, a three-year Minnesota pilot program designed to recognize and celebrate early educators for delivering high-quality care,” Behnke said,. “The pilot will also enhance overall quality by supporting efforts to improve curricula in our state’s child care programs.”

Michelle West is one of three Minnesota Department of Human Services employees that will staff the committee along with the appointed membership. West reported that the committee selection process was stringent. “Priority was given to individuals with an M.A. or Ph.D.,” she said. “The process searched for committee members who had published research or journal articles related to early childhood education and curricula.”

Dr. Ron Erickson, DCTC vice president of academic and student affairs, expressed delight at learning of Behnke’s appointment. “Early care and education programs recommended by the Curriculum Review Committee will receive the highest ratings from the DHS and MDE,” he said. “Jill’s appointment is no small distinction.”

A Hastings resident with a Master of Science degree in early childhood education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Behnke began teaching at DCTC in 1985. She was honored to serve on the committee. “The Parent Aware Rating Tool will empower child care providers and early educators,” she said. “Thanks to the program, more Minnesota children will arrive at kindergarten ready to learn.”

The Child Development program at DCTC prepares graduates for employment in a wide spectrum of early childhood environments. Courses conform to the educational requirements of the Minnesota Department of Human Services regarding assistant teachers and teachers working in a child care setting.

The program’s curriculum covers child development, guidance, professional relationships, nutrition, health and safety, cultural sensitivity, and techniques for promoting learning in young children.

Graduates are qualified to work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-aged children, children with special needs as well as with parents of young children in homes, centers, and community-based programs.

Depending on the level of training and experience, a student may find employment as a child care assistant teacher or teacher, director of a child care center, family child care provider, nanny, home visitor, child care resource and referral counselor, special education program assistant, or child advocate.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for teacher assistants is expected to grow 10 percent between 2006 and 2016. The job outlook is best for teacher assistants with two years of formal postsecondary education.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development  and iseek.org report that job opportunities are good for the state’s child care workers. Skilled child care workers with experience frequently advance to supervisory positions in large day care centers or preschools. A fair number of child care workers decide to open their own day care centers.

Graduates of the Childhood Development program with an A.S. or A.A.S. degree can transfer to Southwest Minnesota State University or the University of Wisconsin-Stout to complete their Bachelor of Science teaching degree with a focus on birth to grade three.

DCTC also has an articulation agreement with Metropolitan State University for graduates who wish to complete a B.A. in psychology and a B.A.S. in early childhood studies.