Directors are the gatekeepers of early childhood quality. They build programs; hire, mentor, and support teachers; manage facilities; interact with and counsel parents; create and monitor budgets; and lead change efforts. They insure that programs are in compliance and are dedicated to quality improvements and accreditation. But the work is extremely difficult and, all too often, they are alone in their daily decision-making.
The Children’s Program Administrator Credential (CPAC) is a state-recognized credential that addresses the components essential for running early childhood and school-age programs. The 18-credit graduate program is designed to provide early childhood directors with the management and leadership competencies to create high quality environments for the children and families they serve. The courses were developed by the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute and are offered at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS).
Both new and experienced administrators may choose to obtain the credential, as well as current teachers who aspire to administrative positions. Those individuals without program management experience will need to complete an internship to obtain the credential.
The 18 one-credit CPAC courses are grouped into six topic areas that reflect the competencies New York State requires to meet the criteria of the CPAC credential. The bundled format makes it easier to complete the required coursework in a timely manner. All courses in each topic are offered during the same semester and topics will be offered on a rotating basis. For more information, visit the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) website.
ECE 601: Organizational Management: Principles & Practices (1 Credit)
Using organization and management theory as a foundation, students will learn how to administer a comprehensive organizational structure that supports and promotes a well-articulated mission. Practical procedures, relevant resources, and specific guidelines will be offered to aid in the process of coming to “know” and lead an early childhood program.
ECE 602: Personnel Management in Early Childhood Programs (1 Credit)
People leading early childhood programs need to develop a skill set that serves the function of establishing and maintaining personnel policies and procedures and effective systems for staff recruitment, professional development, managements, and evaluation. Additional topics will include creating effective staff orientations and performance management. Assignments will be completed in a format that can be used for the Portfolio required to earn the Children’s Program Administrator Credential (CPAC), the statewide director’s credential.
ECE 603: Foundations of Staff Development (1 Credit)
Strategies to support the growth and development of teachers will be explored, with particular emphasis on the director as visionary, coach and mentor in the process of change. Many and varied ways that a director can build a learning community will be presented and experienced, as participants “practice” at their sites, and report back to the group. How personality and leadership style impact the program will be a focusing question.
ECE 604: Supervision of Early Childhood Teachers (1 Credit)
This course will address effective supervisory practices in early childhood care and education settings. Using a clinical supervisory model, directors will learn how to help others with their teaching practices, with an emphasis on assessing individual teacher’s needs using observation techniques, conducting supervisory conferences, and developing and moving towards performance goals with teachers. Using reflective journaling, directors will examine developmentally and culturally appropriate practices and how these impact their roles as they support teachers’ and children’s growth to maximize program quality.
ECE 606: Formulating a Financial Plan - Financial Planning and Management of Children's Programs (1 Credit)
Prerequisites: ECE 607, ECE 608 or permission of the Academic Director.
This course will enable early childhood program directors to understand and apply sound financial planning and management to the operation of children’s programs. Participants will create a multi-year financial plan for their program.
ECE 607: Budgets and Accounting - Financial Planning and Management of Children's Programs (1 Credit)
Prerequisites: ECE 608 or permission of the Academic Director
This course will enable early childhood program directors to develop and manage budgets and present budgetary information to constituents. Participants will learn how to effectively use budgets as a management tool. Tracking budgets, use of fund accounting, financial statements, and spreadsheets as tools for projecting and managing budgets will be introduced.
ECE 608: Expenses and Resources - Financial Planning and Management of Children's Programs (1 Credit)
This course will enable early childhood program directors to develop systems to manage the program’s resources. Participants will learn how to determine the real cost of care and develop a financial resource plan. They will also be introduced to financial management tools.
ECE 605: Management Systems for Quality Children's Programs (1 Credit)
Students will learn how a center’s organizational system provides structures for communication, program planning, and the processes for change. They will discern differences between management and leadership, further developing both sets of skills to facilitate change and center improvements.
ECE 609: Technology and Communication to Enhance Early Childhood Programs (1 Credit)
This course will offer Early Childhood Education Directors information on how to use technology options to manage children’s programs. Directors will learn ways in which technology can facilitate communication, and how to identify effective software programs for operations management, including computerized record-keeping systems. The use of technology applications in curriculum will be presented. The ethics issue of maintaining confidentiality and validating authoring when using technology will be reviewed.
ECE 610: Systems to Ensure Health, Safety, and Nutrition in Children's Programs (1 Credit)
The purpose of this course is to develop the skills, strategies, and methodology early childhood directors need to take a leadership role in implementing and monitoring systems and practices related to health, safety, and nutrition in early care and education programs.
ECE 611: Legal and Regulatory Requirements in Administering Early Childhood Programs (1 Credit)
People leading programs for young children must be able to administer programs in accordance with applicable federal, state, regional, and local laws, regulations, policies, procedures, and requirements of funding sources. This course will provide directors with a practical overview of the legal and regulatory requirements involved in the operation of early childhood programs in New York City. Additional topics include managing the requirements, guidelines, and inspections in a pro-active way to insure both compliance and quality. Accountability and responsible leadership will be underlying themes. Assignments will be completed in a format that can be used for the Portfolio required to earn the Children’s Program Administrator Credential (CPAC), the statewide director’s credential.
ECE 612: Marketing Early Childhood Programs (1 Credit)
The purpose of this course is to help students develop and implement effective publicity and marketing strategies to “showcase” their centers, incorporating an understanding of the relationship between marketing, financial planning, and quality programming. The varied role of the Director in the program’s marketing approach will be a focus.
ECE 613: Ethics and Professional Standards (1 Credit)
The course, through reading, writing, and reflection, individually and with other participants, will prepare directors to consider and create plans to deal with ethical issues in their practice. Foci include: How professional standards and ethics intersect; how directors communicate, orally and in writing; the ethical values inherent in many daily decisions about children, families, and teachers; how maintaining confidentiality is inherent to ethical behavior; and how advocacy is a part of professional and ethical conduct.
ECE 614: Programming for the Whole Child (1 Credit)
The focus in this course will be the role of the director in planning and implementing program that best supports the growth and development of young children. “Who is the child?” will be at the core of our thinking. Participants will learn how knowledge of developmental theory (Dewey, Piaget, Vgotsky, and Malaguzzi), cultural perspectives, along with various forms of assessment, help us come to “know” the child and to perceive and respond to differences in children. “What is teaching?” and “what is learning?” are other inquiries that will guide explorations of curriculum that meets children’s interests and needs. Ongoing program assessment will be an underlying theme.
ECE 615: A Leadership Approach to Programming for the Whole Family (1 Credit)
This course is designed to help early childhood administrators and teachers create in-depth understandings of the various contributions and needs that different families bring to early childhood settings. Participants will discuss how these understandings can be used to establish effective communication and positive partnerships between families and school personnel. This will involve particular discussion of the relationship between family culture and ideas about childrearing.
ECE 616: Programming for Children with Special Needs (1 Credit)
The course will enable early childhood program directors to design and implement, with staff input, practices that meet the diverse needs of children, and provide the supports and resources necessary for children with disabilities. This includes learning to maintain a system for individualized, on-going child assessment and documentation that is related to planning programs, services, referrals and transitions to other services and programs. Participants will learn ways to adapt curriculum and the environment to meet individual needs and support strengths of all children, with a focus on children with special needs. We will brainstorm the challenges and review the rewards of creating a supportive, inclusive environment for all teachers, children and families. The role of director as member of an inter-disciplinary team will be emphasized.
ECE 617: Integration Seminar in Children's Program Administration (1 Credit)
Prerequisites: Permission of the Academic Director.
In this culminating seminar, the framing question will be “How can we best use what’s been learned about Management and Administration, about Children, Families and Curriculum, to improve program quality?” We’ll consider how to fill in the gaps between current realities and vision, keeping in mind program demographics and its effect on planning and the impetus for change. Logs and journals will be created to help reflect upon a growing awareness of effective leadership, particularly as observed through the director’s interactions with a program’s various constituencies. Seminar participants will work collaboratively, building support and networking skills, as well as an awareness of available resources to support directors’ efforts. Avoiding burnout will be explored. Being part of a professional support group will be encouraged, as will being a strong advocate for Early Childhood Education.
ECE 618: Assessment as an Administrator (1 Credit)
The course, through reading, writing, and reflection, individually and with other participants, will prepare directors to recognize the importance of self-reflection and self-assessment as an important aspect of program quality. The participants will consider and create plans for their own professional growth and development.
How will the courses be offered?
CPAC courses have been bundled into six topics. One topic will be offered per semester, which will help students complete the required coursework in a timely manner. Additionally, a participant can elect to take one, some, or all courses. To earn the CPAC, however, an individual must take all 18 courses.
CPAC courses are also available online for the first time! Online classes will also be offered by topic and will function entirely on Blackboard.
When will courses meet?
For students who are registered for the in-person CPAC, courses will be offered both in the morning and early evening. Each course will meet for four sessions, each 3.5 hours long.
Students can access the CPAC online courses on Blackboard, and these courses are available at any time during the course dates.
Where will the courses be taught?
For students who are registered for the in-person CPAC, courses will be offered in locations convenient to public transportation. As the popularity increases, additional sites will be added.
Online CPAC classes are available on Blackboard.
Is there a particular format for the courses?
In-person sessions are interactive and consist of a highly engaging mix of shared reflections, hands-on projects, peer feedback, and formative instructor feedback. Many opportunities to network and share resources with colleagues will be woven into course content.
In online CPAC courses, students will engage in an asynchronous learning environment, a student-centered approach that emphasizes peer-to-peer interactions facilitated by the instructor, who will monitor, guide, and nurture the discussions as necessary. The instructor will not just disseminate information or lecture, but rather intentionally provide students with a variety of readings and prompts to guide discussions.
If I am registered for an in-person CPAC course, can I attend class online via Blackboard?
Students can only register for either the online or in-person CPAC courses. Students cannot take both online and in-person classes for the same course.
Does the credential require anything besides the successful completion of the course work?
Participants will be supported in the creation of a portfolio that will largely be developed through course assignments. The credential is awarded through the NYS Association for the Education of Young Children (NYS AEYC). The portfolio must be submitted to the NYS AEYC CPAC committee as part of the consideration of candidates for the credential.
Who will the faculty be?
A highly skilled group of instructors passionately committed to this effort has worked to develop the courses. Many have been or still are directors. All have had considerable experience teaching at the college and university level, and working with directors. They are dedicated to providing a coordinated and unified vision of early childhood leadership.
What about tuition and related costs?
Students who qualify are encouraged to apply for grants at the Educational Incentive Program (EIP). For more information about EIP scholarships, visit The EIP Homepage
Students also have the opportunity to apply for scholarships including the Patti Lieberman Scholarship for Early Childhood Education or, if they are part of a QUALITYstarsNY program, QUALITY Scholars.
Students seeking financial aid from the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute should contact Dana Benzo at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
For more help / information about financial aid, visit our financial aid page
Will CPAC courses be accepted to meet NAEYC accreditation standards?
The CPAC is an NAEYC-accepted program of study in the new accreditation system for program administrators.
Will credits earned in CPAC courses articulate to other degree programs?
Several CUNY colleges have indicated interest in accepting CPAC course credits as transfer credits. See your advisor for further information.