Career pathway program aims to fill shortage of childcare providers in Kalamazoo

By Hannah Knowles, February 8, 2021

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — People who want a career in early childhood education have a clear path to a good-paying job thanks to an innovative program based in the Edison neighborhood.

The Edison Early Childhood Education Career Pathway program was created to fill a childcare shortage officials said became very apparent in specific neighborhoods throughout the city of Kalamazoo.

“What we are really trying to do is provide a lot of support for those individuals who are seeking that career so they can complete the certification and be employed at the Edison Children’s Center,” said Michael Evans, executive director of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council, which is one of the agencies that joined forces to create the program.

“We know there is a shortage, in particular, the Edison neighborhood, but we want to make sure there is a good chance that people who live and work [there] are providing the service,” Evans said.

In addition to the literacy council, the community partners involved in the project include the Southwest Child Care Resource, YWCA Kalamazoo, and others.

The program had three key components:

  1. Career Pathway and Program Development
  2. Participant Success
  3. Neighborhood Capacity

Evans said the program is ideal for those who love to provide high-quality child care and education. Participants should have a high school diploma or GED, or be on a path to complete one within eight months.

“The goal is to help them start in the program and then move on and continue their education,” said Lisa Smith, a community development manager with the YOU Division of Kalamazoo RESA. “There is a shortage of childcare across the region, state, and nation. COVID did not help. Daycares shut down and when they opened back up they had a hard time getting staff back due to fears of catching COVID.”

The applications deadline for the project was set for March 19, with the goal of recruiting a minimum of 15 participants in the CDA/apprenticeship program, with 45 more individuals being connected to workforce training and adult education services.

Smith said a major part of the program is a full-time, paid, eight-month apprenticeship, which will result in a Childcare Development Associate and employment as an early learning professional at the Edison Children’s Center.

Interested candidates who want to learn more can attend one of two informational sessions:

For more information visit the program information page on the Kalamazoo RESA website.

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