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RLC approved as an entitled institution for Gateways to Opportunity credentials

Rend Lake College Early Childhood Education (ECE) students can now qualify for state-recognized credentials while taking courses to complete a degree or certificate. In April, RLC became an approved “entitled institution” for three Gateways to Opportunity credentials.

Brenda Heinzmann, RLC Early Childhood Education Professor, said the entitled institution designation came after a comprehensive realignment of programs and courses.

“To be an entitled institution, we have completed a redesign of our program. Any student who takes our classes can submit their transcript after graduation and get state-recognized credentials to supplement their Early Childhood Education degree or certificate,” said Heinzmann.

Many governing bodies across the state came together with the idea for stackable credentials for graduates of community college programs. RLC then realigned the ECE degrees and certificates to match those outlined industry standards. RLC will remain an entitled institution until 2023.

For local child care centers, employees with these credentials can bring higher reimbursement rates from the Department of Human Services, putting graduates in higher demand.

“It means we’re leading our profession,” explained Heinzmann. “Our students become more qualified, more marketable. It’s a win-win for us, for our students, and for their future employers.”

RLC is among a select group of institutions in Illinois to be entitled for the Gateways to Opportunity credentials, read a press release from the organization.

It continued to state, “The faculty at RLC has worked diligently to align their courses with the Gateways to Opportunity competencies… RLC has become entitled to help further their goal by graduating students ready to provide quality care and education to young children in Illinois.”

The credentials reflect professional standards set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Illinois Professional Teaching standards. To learn more about RLC’s ECE programs, visit www.rlc.edu/math-science-education/teachingor call 618-437-5321, Ext. 1251.

Gateways to Opportunity, Illinois Professional Development System, is designed to provide guidance, support, and recognition to practitioners who serve children and families in Illinois. Gateways to Opportunity is administered by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies on behalf of the Illinois Department of Human Services. Learn more by visitingwww.ilgateways.com.