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Groundbreaking Apprenticeship Program Targets Child Care Crisis

Early childhood educators made up of primarily of women, will have a unique training opportunity that will help address the severe shortage of early care and education (ECE) professionals through a new partnership launched today between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC), Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) and the Child Care Resource Center (CCRC). The new Early Educators Apprenticeship will help ECE workers to simultaneously earn industry credentials and make progress toward earning college degrees, earn higher wages, and receive on-the-job training and mentoring by leaders in their field.

The new partnership is an important and innovative model for a state like California that is suffering from an acute child care crisis that inhibits parents in low-wage jobs because of a lack of access to quality child care provided by trained and effective ECE workers. Today, only 25% of children with working parents have a licensed child care slot available to them[1]. This leaves California children lacking the early education they need to be successful in work and life. That lack of opportunity continues to slow the state’s economic growth exacerbates the academic achievement gap among low-income children and burdens working families. The Early Educators Apprenticeship will incorporate ECE-related college coursework, on-the-job training and mentoring, and wage increases as targets are reached throughout the apprenticeship.

“A lack of paid training puts both child care workers and parents in an impossible situation. While child care workers want nothing more than to improve their skills and meet higher standards, paying for college is impossible on the low wages we earn. It’s no wonder working parents have so much trouble finding trained child care professionals,” said Tonia McMillian, a child care provider from Bellflower. “Coupled with our push for $15 per hour wages for all child care workers or the equivalent as a floor,
this program is a huge leap forward for our profession and the young children we care for and educate in our homes and classrooms.”

The Early Educators Apprenticeship will be made possible by a $1 million grant just awarded by the California Community Colleges Chancellors Office under the California Apprenticeship Initiative New Innovative Grant Program. However, funding is still needed to ensure the long term sustainability of this program.

Other partners in this effort include the California Early Childhood Mentor Program and the Worker Education and Resource Center (WERC). The project is supported by the California Department of Education (CDE) and the Division of Apprenticeship Standards, as well as through initial funding from the California Workforce Investment Board (WIB) and the Employment Development Department (EDD). The apprenticeship program will use evidence-based outcomes as a foundation for apprentices’ success including pre-college preparation, digital literacy, study skill management, focused academic advisement and a cohort-based environment for the first group of apprentices.

“This grant enhances our partnership with SEIU and other partners to address a critical need in our service area,” said Larry Frank, president of LA Trade Tech College. “We look forward to providing a pathway for these college-based apprentices so they can provide the best early care and education possible to the children and communities who need it most.”

Study after study suggests that teacher compensation is directly related to early learning outcomes; so investing in our child care workforce today is a strong investment in California’s future.

“This innovative program builds on a long-standing model of apprenticeship in construction work and other trades, opening life-changing opportunities for a workforce comprised largely of low-income women of color,” said Randi Wolfe, Ph.D., Director of SEIU’s California Early Childhood Education Training Program. “I’m excited that we are helping to bring this important professional development opportunity to the early education workforce, raising quality without placing an additional financial burden on parents.”



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