The western exterior of Lech Walesa Hall

Northeastern Illinois University adds credentialing opportunities for Early Childhood majors

Monday, October 29, 2018

Northeastern Illinois University has been approved as an entitled institution for the Gateways to Opportunity ECE Credential Levels 2, 3, 4 and 5. The entitlement, which runs through 2023, means that effective immediately, Northeastern students have the opportunity to qualify for state-recognized credentials as they take courses or complete a degree through the Daniel L. Goodwin College of Education’s Early Childhood program in the Department of Teacher Education.

Northeastern is among a select group of institutions in Illinois to be entitled for the Gateways to Opportunity credentials.

“Groundbreaking research about a child's brain development has impacted our knowledge about how children learn,” Teacher Education Department Chair Rachel Adeodu said. “We now know much more than we did 18-20 years ago about the most effective approaches for teaching young children. Being a Gateways-credentialed Institution validates that our graduates have attained the knowledge and skills necessary to practice their profession by meeting multiple professional competencies and standards including the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Illinois Professional Teaching Standards as well as the Gateways benchmarks.”

In a time when early childhood education is defining itself as a field that promotes professional development, Northeastern has become entitled to help further this goal by graduating students ready to provide quality care and education to young children in Illinois.

The credential offers many opportunities for Early Childhood graduates, Adeodu said. Among the benefits are:

  • It provides graduates with multiple career pathways.
  • Graduates earn a degree and a credential simultaneously.
  • It increases their professional recognition.

“Many employers give greater priority to professionals who have earned a credential when doing their hiring, and credentialed applicants may be given preference for job opportunities,” Adeodu said. “Thus, this is a great benefit to our graduates whether they choose to work in a public school setting or in the field of early care and development.”

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 & Referral Agencies on behalf of the Illinois Department of Human Services.