In the summer of 2019 the Early Childhood Educator Apprenticeship Training Program was launched. Steepletown worked with the Office of Apprenticeship in Lansing to submit the Standards which were approved by the Department of Labor. This apprenticeship training integrates classroom instruction taken at GRCC with on-the-job learning that is guided by a Mentor Teacher; the apprentices also earn an hourly wage while in the classroom. Steepletown was fortunate to have an MSW Intern from Ferris State who was instrumental in contacting a pool of more than 30 candidates early in the summer, narrowing the field down to 10 individuals who started this apprenticeship in August.
Steepletown has been leading the development of this training program for more than a year with local employers who offer early childhood education. Building on some modest success of young adults who have earned their Child Development Associates Credential with support from Steepletown’s workforce development program, it was decided to take this work to the next level. Leadership from the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative and GRCC’s Education and Child Development Department have also been instrumental in developing this training. The employer partners for the apprenticeship include the Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative (which operates two centers), the Grand Rapids Early Discovery Center, the United Methodist Community House, Baxter Community Center, YMCA, Hispanic Center, SECOM Resource Center, and the Other Way Ministries. This group of employer partners also refers to itself as the Apprenticeship Partnership.
The overall goal of this initiative is to develop a training structure for those interested in becoming early childhood educators who need to earn an income while developing the skills and credentials to be teachers. One of the outcomes of this year’s apprenticeship training is that apprentices will earn the Child Development Associates Credential, which allows them to serve as Assistant Teachers in the classroom; they will also earn 9 credits toward an Associate Degree and the Certificate of Apprenticeship from the Department of Labor. Another objective is to develop a training structure and curriculum that is replicable and can be utilized by other urban core communities. Overall the primary beneficiaries of this apprenticeship training program are the children in those early childhood development/education centers that have better trained teachers.