In an effort to address the alarming shortage of qualified ECE workers (a shortage projected to grow dramatically over the coming years), in 2015 the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) began exploring the apprenticeship model as an approach to ECE professional development that could provide on-the-job training, professional development, and improved compensation that would not place the financial burden on parents. Over the next four years, through the SEIU Early Educator Training Center (SETC) guided by the leadership of Randi Wolfe, Ph.D., three apprenticeship models were created, implemented and registered with the CA Division of Apprenticeship Standards.
Early Educator Center-Based Apprenticeship Launched in 2016 through the SETC, the Early Educator Center-Based Apprenticeship is a partnership between SETC, SEIU Local 99 and the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, a community-based organization that operates child care centers in low-income communities across Southeast Los Angeles. To date, the Early Educator Center-Based Apprenticeship has engaged 55 apprentices at 13 state-funded child care centers. Apprentices pursue CA Child Development Associate Teacher and Teacher Permits. They receive on-site mentoring and supervision, participate in no-cost college courses through Los Angeles Trade Technical College, and work full-time as assistant or associate teachers with children ages 2-6. To date, 26 apprentices have graduated from the program. Nineteen apprentices are currently engaged and will graduate by June 2019.
Family Child Care Apprenticeship In 2017, the Family Child Care Provider On-The-Job Training Program (FCC Apprenticeship) launched as a partnership between SETC, SEIU Local 99 and the Child Care Resource Center, a Resource & Referral agency that provides training to ECE workers across San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley in LA County. Additional cohorts were subsequently added – one in partnership with the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation in Los Angeles, and another in partnership with BANANAS, a Resource & Referral agency that provides ECE services in Alameda County. Apprentices receive bi-monthly coaching, operate family child care homes that care mostly for infants and toddlers, and take no-cost community college courses through Los Angeles Trade Technical College and Berkeley City College. Currently, the four cohorts of the FCC Apprenticeship have involved 194 licensed FCC providers. There are no professional development or certification requirements for FCC providers in California other than state licensing requirements (e.g., basic health and safety, background checks, first aid). Therefore, as a proxy for quality, the apprentices earn CA Child Development Assistant, Associate Teacher and Teacher Permits. To date, 37 apprentices have graduated from the program and 138 are currently engaged. The FCC Apprenticeship is addressing a critical, unmet need to increase the quality of care available especially to infants and toddlers by increasing the skills, competencies and early childhood knowledge of their caregivers.
Head Start Apprenticeship The Head Start Apprenticeship was built upon a program originally launched by the YMCA of the East Bay in Alameda County during the summer of 2016. The program provided a career on-ramp to enable unemployed Head Start parents to work in ECE and earn CA Child Development Associate Teacher Permits through an intensive 8-month work/study program. Upon completion of the program, apprentices could be hired as full-time Head Start assistant teachers. The expanded Head Start Apprenticeship launched in 2017, incorporating the YMCA’s existing program as the first tier of the program, and adding a second tier through which apprentices earn AA degrees from Berkeley City College, and a third tier through which apprentices earn BA degrees in Early Childhood Studies from Brandman University. The focus on degree attainment reflects the federal Head Start professional development requirements for teachers and master teachers. Apprentices simultaneously earn CA Child Development Associate Teacher, Teacher and Master Teacher Permits. The partnership includes SETC, SEIU Local 1021 and the YMCA of the East Bay, and has involved 138 participants to date. Of these, 42 apprentices have graduated and 91 are currently engaged, including 20 apprentices in the BA cohort.