A Professional Development Solution for Kansas City area Early Educators
By Jenny Brandt, Director of Early Care and Education
I started as an intern at TFC over 17 years ago. I have seen funding come and go, bright ideas soar, and incredibly impactful supports disappear. One thing has remained stable throughout my time at TFC — meeting the demand for professional development in the community. By community, I am referring to the early childhood providers in the Kansas City Metropolitan area.
Kansas City spreads over two states, and while it may be confusing to outsiders, we know it well. We keep each state’s available resources straight for our providers. It’s one of the first things we ask, “MO or KS?” Even so, we have always wanted an easier way for providers to find training, and more of it, wherever they are located in Kansas City.
Finally, over three years ago, during a brainstorming meeting with community partners, an idea was proposed — a hub for professional development in Kansas City at TFC. Although the word hub is used frequently in 2022, at the time the term was new to me, but the concept made so much sense. We could create one central entry point for providers to find the professional development available in Kansas City. As we mapped out the idea, we realized the multitude of possibilities.
With the Hub, a training cadre would be created. Instead of TFC trying to provide so much training, we would contract with those that were already providing specialized training. With the added capacity, these trainers could help offer community training and go on-site to programs when providers requested.
Increasing the quality training and building a system to access services would simplify professional development for everyone, especially the provider. The Hub would serve as an umbrella for providers to not only find training but coaching projects and other quality initiatives available in the community. We would regularly collect data to assess the engagement of providers, determine what needs were not being met, and then pivot. Innovation would be key.
The concept of making the professional development high quality, comprehensive, and fluid was also appealing to local funders. Instead of funding one innovation, it would allow funders to fund early education professional development and quality support as a system. Now, we just had to build the “door,” the portal.
The dream has now become a reality. Since the RFQ was released, TFC has contracted with 13 trainers, resulting in increased offerings. A discount membership program has been created and special events are being scheduled. Finally, the Hub portal is currently being built and the plan is to be live by June 2022. It is exciting to see this professional development solution in Kansas City. I cannot wait for providers to log in and easily find more professional development available than ever before.