Early care and education of young children: it's not babysitting anymore!
The field of early care and education of young children is changing rapidly and responding to forces from the national, state and local levels. Teachers of young children are being required to pursue higher education for employment in the field, and community colleges have stepped to the forefront to provide educational opportunities for teachers of young children. This work investigates the changes in the early care and education of young children teacher preparation programs at three community colleges in Alabama from 2000-2010. Case studies of each institution include a demographical snapshot of the institution, an analysis of the early care and education of young children teacher preparation programs, and interviews with persons at the institutions with direct knowledge of the programs. The three case studies were cross-analyzed, providing insight into the commonalities and differences in external and internal forces that have initiated changes in the teacher preparation programs and the changes that occurred during the ten year focus of the study. The study investigates institutional change in the three institutions. Indicators identified were the urgency for change created by external and internal forces to the institution, the vision of the institution, obstacles to be overcome, responses to the urgency and the obstacles, and building on the change. The cross-analysis revealed the commonalities and differences in the responses of the three institutions. The research questions identified the external and internal forces pushing for changes in the early care and education programs at the institutions. The study revealed the changes that occurred in the programs and offered insight into the future of the early care and education teacher preparation programs at the three institutions.