Quality child care is crucial for a productive workforce, and fall 2022 enrollment in the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Scholars for Excellence in Child Care (SECC) program reached nearly 1,000 child care providers, doubling participation in the previous year.

The SECC program, offered at public community colleges and career technology centers across the state, awards scholarships to eligible child care professionals to complete course work in the area of child development or early childhood education. Through a partnership between the child care teacher/family child care provider, the State Regents and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS), SECC students receive an award to pursue a National Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential, Certificate of Mastery in Child Development/Early Childhood Education or associate degree in child development.

“The pandemic showed us how vital the childcare industry is to our state workforce,” said Chancellor Allison D. Garrett. “Providing scholarships for child care providers to complete a credential or degree helps ensure the availability of exceptional child care in communities across Oklahoma.”

OKDHS funds the SECC program scholarship and, for the next two years, will pay the total cost of tuition, fees and books for child care professionals pursuing a National CDA Credential and/or a Certificate of Mastery in Child Development. Ten percent of the scholarship award is supported by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and the remainder is covered by grant funds.

Oklahoma received $360 million in ARPA funding to allocate as grants to licensed child care programs. The State Regents, OKDHS and 12 state system community colleges have partnered to provide formal education opportunities for child care professionals in licensed child care facilities.

Since inception of the SECC program in 2000, more than 6,500 child care professionals have earned a CDA credential, certificate or associate degree in child development or early childhood education. For more information about the SECC program, visit www.okhighered.org/scholars.