Fifty-five early childhood program administrators enhance their skills at the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education


The United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education recently celebrated the graduation of 55 early education professionals, including center directors, owners and administrators from its Early Childhood Program Administrator’s Institute (ECPAI). Provided through a partnership with The Children’s Trust, The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and Miami Dade College, ECPAI offers the opportunity for these professionals to further their knowledge of current early childhood management philosophies, enhance their leadership skills and increase the level of quality in their early childhood centers.

Peter Gorski, MD, MPA, chief health and child development officer from The Children’s Trust, served as keynote speaker at the graduating ceremony, where graduates along with their families and friends enjoyed lunch and a recognition program highlighting accomplishments for the year. Three students from the ECPAI graduating class also shared reflections about the program’s influence on their careers.

“With every graduating class of ECPAI, we are making great strides in elevating the quality of early education all across our community at dozens of early learning centers,” Gladys Montes, vice president, United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education, said. “Because of this, hundreds of young children will receive meaningful and enriching learning experiences for years to come.”

Since the Center launched the program five years ago, 365 early education professionals have been trained. Among the successes cited by the program participants:

  • Many graduates have sustained their centers through the economic downturn, and in some cases, even grown operations to multiple sites.• Numerous centers received accreditation from Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment (APPLE), and one center attained the prestigious National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation – a distinction that only eight percent of early childcare centers in the U.S. hold.
  • A number of graduates took part in United Way’s Comcast Technology Awareness Series, designed to provide early childhood educators with a proper understanding of technology to create more efficient, better managed and intellectually stimulating environments for the children at their centers.
  • Many graduates have acquired their Advanced Director Credential, the highest qualification an early education director can achieve in Florida.
  • A group of graduates and professors have formed an exchange group, where they can continue to share ideas, challenges and best practices.
  • With the help of the mentors, several graduates have been able to create newsletters for parents, websites and brochures to promote their businesses.

These accomplishments epitomize the mission of the Center to elevate the quality of early care and education in Miami-Dade and beyond by serving as a model of best practices.