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New early childhood education apprenticeship pays you to learn

Early childhood education apprenticeships provide for those with a passion for child development a path to a rewarding career. CCRC is launching a new earn-and-learn apprenticeship for parents in the San Fernando Valley, starting this summer.

A press event hosted earlier this month at MAOF’s Lee Sands Weltor Center in South Central LA kicked off the program. The Los Angeles County Department of Economic Opportunity, in partnership with Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell of the Second District, hosted the press conference to launch the 2-year Assistant Teacher Apprenticeship program that will educate and train local workers seeking careers in the early childhood education (ECE) sector.

“Quality care is defined by the workforce, and we know what a hit the workforce took as a result of COVID. Family-based child care closed, centers closed,” said Mitchell. “We’ve got to make sure the workforce comes back and we know it’s a workforce that has not always been well respected and certainly not well compensated.”

Director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Barbara Ferrer spoke at the podium about how early childhood care and education are indicators of health later in life. On that topic, she and other county leaders discussed how there are only 30,000 child care providers in the county to serve over 700,000 children under age 5. “We don’t have anywhere near 700,000 child care slots, so we have to do all we can to expand the sector from the workforce development perspective to make sure we’re meeting the needs of every family,” said Mitchell.

For Veronica Munoz, a mother of three who completed a similar early childhood education apprenticeship through CCRC, her experience has been enlightening. “Once I started doing my hours in the center, I got to appreciate more what the teachers do with the kids,” said Munoz. “Because as a parent, you think I’m just going to leave my kid [at the center] and not think about what goes behind it. There was all this social, emotional, and cognitive stuff that I didn’t know and wasn’t aware of. Right now, we’re doing our ECE units. I’m learning so much.”

Before enrolling in the apprenticeship, Munoz enrolled her children in CCRC Head Start. Inspired by the program, she joined the Head Start Policy Council. That position led her to the apprenticeship. “I had my daughter at 17 and got my GED. My daughter is 15 now, so I hadn’t been to school for a while,” said Munoz. “For me, it was like ‘Am I able to go back to school?’ I’d always been a stay-at-home mom so it’s like, now it’s my turn, so I thought ‘Am I going to be capable of doing it?’”

She said the experience has been comprehensive and supportive in a way that gives her the confidence to continue. “It’s been great with the support that CCRC gives, they don’t just throw you in, they’re very supportive. They help you make it fit into your life-style. They accommodate your time to get it done and the support has been amazing. Overall, everyone in the program makes you feel welcome and like you can do it,” she said.

Once Munoz completes her apprenticeship, she will have the accreditation to become a Head Start teacher’s assistant and begin a career in ECE. “It’s not only about the money for me. Even though I have four kids, there’s a lot I didn’t know. So being in the program has taught me a lot that I can do to parent my own children. It’s nerve-racking, I still get nervous, but thinking about where I was to where I am now – the change is amazing, everyone can see it. I feel proud of myself. I never thought I’d be in this position now – makes me feel very accomplished for what I’ve done.”

CCRC’s upcoming program includes four child development courses offered in-person at CCRC’s Sylmar office and virtually. Participants will complete a total of 2,000 hours over the course two years. Click here to complete the application and see if you qualify. The last day to register is May 31 with classes starting August 28th, 2024.

An opportunity will be made available to parents in the Antelope Valley in the near future.

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