Children’s Advocate Wins Award at State Conference
In honor of her efforts to change the lives of children in South Carolina, Kerrie Welsh has received the 2012 Marian Wright Edelman Advocacy Award.
Welsh, director of the South Carolina Program for Infant/Toddler Care, received the award at the annual South Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children conference in Columbia, S.C. on Oct. 6.
“I am so very honored to receive an award in the name of Marian Wright Edelman who has had such a profound impact on social justice, particularly in the realm of early childhood education,” Welsh said.
The Marian Wright Edelman Advocacy Award is designed to honor a person who has made a significant contribution that changes the lives of children in positive ways. The award’s namesake, Marian Wright Edelman, is a native South Carolinian and the director of the Children’s Defense Fund. Her advocacy efforts for children are known worldwide.
SCAEYC chose to honor Dr. Edelman by naming an award in her honor and presenting it at the group’s annual conference.
Welsh manages the SCPITC, a statewide program that educates child care providers about the best ways to support infants’ and toddlers’ early learning and healthy development. SCPITC has a statewide network of infant and toddler specialists who provide free training and coaching to child care providers at their care locations.
“The child care teachers and child care program directors in our state who are caring for our youngest citizens are charged with an incredible responsibility to the future of our society,” Welsh said. “They are shaping the lives of millions of children during the most critical point in human development. Early experiences last a lifetime, so it’s critical that these experiences be positive and foster healthy development and learning that will provide these young children the foundation they need for later life success.
“Unfortunately, these care-teachers are often ill equipped for the job and struggle to meet the needs of the children in their care. The SCPITC Network works with infant and toddler caregivers and program directors to develop a deeper understanding of child development and provides strategies to support the early learning.”
Welsh established the SCPITC Network in 2006 with the support of the S.C. Department of Social Services. Prior to her work in South Carolina, Welsh was part of WestEd’s Program for Infant/Toddler Care in California, serving on the Partners for Quality team (California’s Infant/Toddler Specialist Network) and the Research and Evaluation team.
Since embarking on her work in South Carolina, Welsh has been a leader in infant and toddler quality child care initiatives. These efforts include multiple interstate collaborations that have resulted in the adoption of South Carolina’s Infant/Toddler Guidelines and the creation of the South Carolina Infant/Toddler Field Guide.
Welsh also teaches the Infant/Toddler Practicum course at the University of South Carolina. She earned her B.A. in sociology from Cal State, East Bay, and earned her M.A. in early childhood education with an emphasis in public policy from San Francisco State University.
“Infant and toddler care-teachers want what is best for the children in their care. The SCPITC Network offers the support to help them deliver that quality care,” Welsh said.
SCPITC is part of the University of South Carolina’s College of Education in Columbia, S.C.
For details about the SCPITC, call (803) 777-0092 or visit scpitc.org. The SCPITC offers a free expert advice forum for parents and care-givers.