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Pilot Project For Military Spouses Announced

October 21, 2018 12:29 PM
Hopkins House announces a pilot project to encourage military spouses to enter the early care and education field. Inspired by comments made by Senator Tim Kaine during a recent visit to Hopkins House, this pilot project will explore ways to encourage military spouses to gain the skills and experience that will enable them to serve as permanent and substitute preschool educators.

Already thin, the pool of skilled and experienced preschool educators is expected to grow thinner as demand increases. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of preschool teachers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, due to the continued focus on the importance of early childhood education.

"There is a huge need for qualified preschool educators, and that need grows every day," explained Hopkins House president, J. Glenn Hopkins. "We need permanent staff as well as individuals that can step in and provide a continuity of learning and nurturing when our educators are out sick or on vacation, or when they are in professional development training."

During the Senator’s visit, Hopkins discussed this issue with Kaine, who suggested that military spouses might be a good source of workforce talent for preschools while also helping to address the high unemployment among military spouses.

Recent studies have found that the unemployment rate among active and veteran spouses is as high as 20 percent in some areas, causing considerable financial stress for military service members and their families.  

"Just over a year ago I started meeting with military spouses, advocates, and the business community to discuss solutions for bringing down the high unemployment rate among military spouses," said Kaine. "I’ve heard again and again about the difficulty spouses face in finding work as a result of frequent moves and unexpected transfers."

This pilot project will be a new component of Hopkins House's Early Childhood Learning Institute (ECLI).  In partnership with Northern Virginia Community College, the ECLI offers college classes, professional certifications, and child care, supported by academic and career counseling. Graduates of the ECLI are offered permanent, higher pay, and benefits at child care centers. Tuition aid is provided through college scholarships funded by the Virginia Social Services Department and Hopkins House is exploring additional aid for military spouses through the GI Bill and the Military Spouse Employment Act of 2018 sponsored by Senator Kaine.