The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Childhood Education and Family Studies degree prepares students to work in a variety of educational and child care settings, including preschool, Pre K, day care, private kindergarten and as a para-professional in the public schools. This degree offers students the opportunity to gain enhanced practical experience through practicum and student teaching courses. The AS Childhood Ed & Family Studies degree is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation (ECADA). This degree program is fully articulated with Southern Oregon University’s early childhood development program. Students who transfer to Southern Oregon University, and are accepted into the program, should be able to complete requirements for the bachelor's degree with two additional years of coursework.

All coursework specific to childhood education and family studies degrees and certificates1 is offered online through Southwestern. Transfer courses that meet Southwestern's course outcomes are readily accepted into the program.

Both the AS CE&FS and AAS CE&FS degrees are accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation (NAEYC ECADA) program.


Please note that there are four (4) separate paths to an AAS Childhood Education and Family Studies Degree. To see how this program links to other programs in the pathway click here.

Childhood Education & Family Studies Principles & Goals

Main principles in the Childhood Education & Family Studies Program include:

  • Understanding that children lead their own learning based on the level of their development
  • Focusing on the importance of families in their roles with their young children
  • Respecting diversity
  • Addressing the needs of children with diverse abilities in inclusive settings
  • Themes of inclusion, bilingual and multicultural education and care
  • Critical thinking
  • Reflective teaching

These principles are infused throughout the Childhood Education & Family Studies coursework. Coursework and field experiences at every level recognize the social, historical, political, and cultural contexts that have impacted the profession. 

Southwestern's Childhood Education & Family Studies (CE&FS) program goals include:

  • The CE&FS Program seeks to empower its graduates by enabling them to acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that will allow them to excel in their careers or further educational goals. 
  • The CE&FS Program seeks to provide opportunities for teacher candidate-child, teacher candidate-classroom teacher, teacher candidate-content and teacher candidate-faculty interaction supporting teacher’s professional growth and development.
  • The CE&FS Program seeks to provide model early care and education programs and staff for teacher candidates to develop effective knowledge, skills and attitudes.
  • Graduates of the Childhood Education & Family Studies (CE&FS) Program will possess broad general education and content area knowledge, remain effective and reflective practitioners and problem solvers, apply innovative learning technologies and participate in opportunities for professional growth.

Entry Requirements

Students are required to complete the college's placement process to determine skill level and readiness in math, reading and writing. As part of their training program, students must begin with the courses within their skill level as determined by the placement process.

All Childhood Education and Family Studies students are required to obtain a valid first aid and CPR card, a Food Handlers Card, and complete HDFS9284 Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting as components of ECE170 Health and Safety Early Childhood.  Students will also be required to have a current immunization record and background check to complete practicum requirements. The requirements will vary per state. Students are encouraged to research the requirements for the state regulating organization regarding what will be required to complete the background check. 

In Oregon, students must be listed on the Oregon Central Background Registry (CBR).  To begin this process, visit the State of Oregon Early Learning Division to be prepared to complete practicum work in a certified early learning center, apply for a background check, and ill then receive additional information regarding how to comply with  fingerprinting requirements.

Graduation Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 97 credit hours with a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 or better. All courses must be passed with a grade of ‘C’ or better. Practicum and Student Teaching courses require students to pass CLASS assessments to successfully complete the courses. Twenty four (24) credits of the last 45 credits must be completed at Southwestern before this AAS degree is awarded.

Courses that are developmental in nature, designed to prepare students for college transfer courses, are not applicable to this degree.

Complete the graduation application process one term prior to the term of completion (e.g., spring term graduates must apply during winter term).

Credit for Prior Learning

Credit for prior learning options are available for students with a Preschool Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, an Infant Toddler Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, a Step Seven on the Oregon Registry, or a Certificate of Completion for First Connections that includes mentoring in an Infant toddler learning environment. Contact for more information.

Pre-Program Requirements

Students are required to take the following courses prior to the program courses, depending on students' placement information. See advisor for details:

CIS90Computer Basics (or demonstrate proficiency)2
MTH20Basic Mathematics4
WR90Paragraph Fundamentals3-4
or WR90R Academic Literacy

Program Guide

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
CIS120 Concepts of Computing 4
ECE150 Introduction and Observation ECE 1 3
ECE151 Guidance and Classroom Management 1 3
ECE170 Health and Safety Early Childhood 2
HDFS225 Prenatal Infant and Toddler Dev 3
PE185 Physical Education Course 2 1
ECE154 Children's Language and Lit Dev 3
ECE209 Theory and Practicum I 3 3
HDFS247 Preschool Child Development 3
English Composition
or English Composition w/Honors
Algebra I 4
or Math Literacy
PE185 Physical Education Course 2 1
ECE102 Theory and Practicum II 3 3
ECE240 Lesson and Curriculum Planning 3
ED258 Multicultural Education 3
HDFS229 Development in Middle Childhood 3
SP100 Basic Speech Communications 5 3
Second Year
BA285 Human Relations in Organizations 3
ECE152 Creative Activities in ECE 3
ECE163 Preschool Practicum/Environments 3
ED169 Overview of Student Special Needs 3
Elective 6 3
ECE261 Student Teaching I Early Child Ed 6
HDFS140 Contemporary American Families 3
HDFS227 Parents as Partners in Education 3
PE185 Physical Education Course 2 1
Elective 6 3
ECE262 Student Teaching II Early Child Ed 6
FN225 Nutrition 4
HDFS222 Family Relations 3
HDFS285 Prof Issues in Early Childhood Ed 3
Specific Elective 7 2
 Total Credits97

ECE150 Introduction and Observation ECE and ECE151 Guidance and Classroom Management must be taken concurrently.  A criminal background check is required for ECE 150 and all practicum courses.


HE250 Personal Health or PE231 Wellness for Life may be substituted for three (3) credits of  PE185 sport/activity courses.


ECE209 Theory and Practicum I and ECE102 Theory and Practicum II must be taken in sequence.  A criminal background check must be on file before enrolling in these courses.


 A higher math class can be substituted.


SP111 Fundamentals of Public Speaking, SP218 Interpersonal Communication, SP219 Small Group Discussion or SP220 Gender and Communication may be substituted for SP100 Basic Speech Communications.


For transfer to a public Oregon university it is recommended that students fulfill electives with college-level science and math courses.  See Childhood Ed & Family Studies advisor for recommendations.  Students choosing to earn the Infant and Toddler Development Certificate should take ECE161 Infant and Toddler Practicum I & ECE162 Infant and Toddler Practicum II.


Specific Electives:  HDFS297 Parenting Ed and Early Childhood HmED134 Children Who are Dual Lang Learners, ED135 Teaching Math to Young ChildrenECE161 Infant and Toddler Practicum I, ECE162 Infant and Toddler Practicum II, ECE220 Teaching Outdoor Education. Students pursuing the Career Pathway Certificate of Completion Parenting Education & Early Childhood Home Visitor should select HDFS297 Parenting Ed and Early Childhood Hm as the Specific Elective.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this degree, students will have knowledge and skills in the following Standards developed by National Association for the Education of Young Children Early Childhood Associate Degree Accreditation (NAEYC ECADA) organization:

  1. Promoting Child Development and Learning
    Students develop and use their understanding of child development – including young children's unique characteristics and needs, and the multiple interacting influences on children's development and learning – to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for each child.
    Key elements of Outcome 1;
    1. Describe young children's diverse characteristics and needs, from birth through age 8.
    2. Explain the multiple influences on early development and learning.
    3. Use knowledge of child development to create healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging learning environments for young children.
  2. Building Family and Community Relationships
    Students articulate the complex characteristics of children's families and communities and use this understanding to create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families, and to engage all families in their children's development and learning.
    Key elements of Outcome 2;
    1. Describe diverse family and community characteristics.
    2. Develop and implement strategies to support and engage families and communities through respectful, reciprocal relationships.
    3. Develop and implement plans to engage families and communities in young children's development and learning.
  3. Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children and Families
    Students articulate the goals, benefits, and purposes of assessment and use systematic observations, documentation, and other effective assessment strategies in a responsible way, in partnership with families and other professionals, to positively influence the development of every child.
    Key elements of Outcome 3;
    1. State the goals, benefits, and purposes of assessment – including its use in development of appropriate goals, curriculum, and teaching strategies for young children.
    2. Use observation, documentation, and other appropriate assessment tools and approaches, including the use of technology in documentation, assessment and data collection.
    3. Practice responsible assessment to promote positive outcomes for each child, including an awareness of assistive technology for children with ability differences.
    4. Describe how assessment partnerships with families and with professional colleagues can be used to build effective learning environments.
  4. Using Developmentally Effective Approaches
    Students implement a wide array of developmentally appropriate approaches, instructional strategies, and tools to connect with children and families and positively influence each child's development and learning, which will vary depending on children's ages, characteristics, and the early childhood setting.
    Key elements of Outcome 4;
    1. Discuss how supportive relationships and positive interactions are the foundation of their work with young children.
    2. List and implement effective instructional and guidance strategies and tools for early education, including appropriate uses of technology.
    3. Use a broad repertoire of developmentally appropriate teaching/learning and guidance approaches.
    4. Reflect on their own practice to promote positive outcomes for each child.
  5. Using Content Knowledge to Build Meaningful Curriculum
    Students develop and apply their knowledge of developmental domains and academic (or content) disciplines to design, implement, and evaluate meaningful, challenging curriculum that promotes comprehensive developmental and learning outcomes for each child.
    Key elements of Outcome 5;
    1. Begin to explain content knowledge and resources in academic disciplines: language and literacy; the arts – music, creative movement, dance, drama, visual arts; mathematics; science; physical education – physical activity, health, and safety; and social studies.
    2. Recognize and apply the central concepts, inquiry tools, and structures of content areas or academic disciplines.
    3. Use their own knowledge, appropriate early learning outcomes, and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate developmentally meaningful and challenging curriculum for each child.
  6. Becoming a Professional
    Students are collaborative learners who continuously demonstrate knowledgeable, reflective and critical perspectives of their work, make informed decisions that integrate knowledge from a variety of sources, including ethical guidelines, and advocate for sound educational practices and policies.
    Key elements of Outcome 6;
    1. Identify as a member of the early childhood field and become involved in the professional community.
    2. Locate and apply ethical guidelines and other early childhood professional guidelines.
    3. Engage in continuous, collaborative learning to inform practice; using technology effectively with young children, with peers, and as a professional resource.
    4. Integrate knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives on early education into their work.
    5. Engage in informed advocacy for young children and the early childhood profession.
  7. Early Childhood Field Experiences - These outcomes are to be met at the bachelor's level program upon transfer.
    Students engage in field experiences and clinical practice to develop the knowledge, skills and professional dispositions necessary to promote the development and learning of young children in a variety of early childhood settings and with multiple age groups.
    Key elements of Outcome 7;
    1. Observe and practice in at least two of the three early childhood age groups (birth – age 3, 3-5, 5-8).
    2. Observe and practice in at least two of the three main types of early education settings (primary school grades, child care centers and homes, ECEAP/Head Start programs).