An innovative approach to developing an effective workforce
KALAMAZOO, MI, February 1, 2021: People who want a career in early childhood education now 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 provides a sustainable career pathway that increases the availability of qualified Early Learning Professionals (ELPs) in Kalamazoo. The program expands access to childcare and early learning options for residents that lead to strong and resilient families through multi-generational learning approaches.
This program is led by community partners from Kalamazoo Literacy Council (KLC), Southwest Child Care Resource (CCR), YWCA Kalamazoo, and other community agencies. It has three key components:
- Career Pathway and Program Development: The program structure aligns workforce development and adult learning activities in ways that support job seekers in their pursuit of careers as ELPs and in other childcare-related careers.
- Participant Success: Individuals who participate in the program pilot will have access to gainful employment, paid training, and support that lead to greater financial stability and economic opportunity.
- Neighborhood Capacity: The program will increase the capacity of the Edison neighborhood to support the well-being of families and improve the local economy. It will also increase equitable access to quality child care services in the neighborhood and spark entrepreneurial and economic growth as a result of leveraging the programs provided through the new YWCA Edison Children’s Center and other participating sites in the Edison neighborhood.
A major part of this program is a full-time, paid, eight-month apprenticeship, which will result in a Childcare Development Associate (CDA) and employment as an ELP at the Edison Children’s Center. YWCA will begin training staff as they are hired with CDA training beginning in April 2021. The Children’s Center will begin enrolling children in September 2021. The program is ideal for those who love to provide high quality child care and education. Participants should have their high school diploma or GED or be on a path to complete one within eight months. Training for 1st, 2nd, or 3rd shift and child care options are available.
“This is an incredible opportunity for people who want to work in childcare but need support and guidance to reach that goal,” KLC Executive Director Michael Evans said. “What really excites me about this program is that it provides a path for non-traditional candidates who may not have a GED, are still working to improve their English fluency, or who just need additional guidance to enter this much needed profession.”
“YWCA Kalamazoo recognizes our responsibility to create equitable access not only to supportive services but also to pathways for employment,” says CEO Dr. Grace Lubwama. Our commitment to our mission of Eliminating Racism and Empowering Women is driven by our internal operations. Through this collaboration with Kalamazoo Literacy Council and Southwest Child Care Resources, we intend to demonstrate the power of partnerships by providing high-quality, early learning, and childcare services to children and families within their own communities. This career pathway is an example of work at the intersection of education and equity. The supports provided through this collaboration will ensure that those who are interested in a career in early childhood education have a clear path attached to meaningful, equitable employment.”
April Goodwin, Executive Director of Southwest Child Care Resources realizes that Kalamazoo county faces a critical shortage of child care providers. “An effective strategy was to build a talent pipeline into early childhood education and related fields,” she says. “The pipeline allows child care providers to receive on-the-job training and education which result in providers earning their CDA certificate along with an Apprenticeship Certificate of Completion (Child Care Development Specialist – Early Education). The pipeline continues with the provider having the opportunity to attend Kellogg Community College and earn an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education. Southwest Child Care Resources feels that through the collaboration with YWCA Kalamazoo and the KLC, we will be able to support those who aspire to grow as Early Childhood Education professionals.”
Applications are being accepted until March 19th, 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. Interested candidates should visit www.ywcakalamazoo.org/what-we-do/improving-the-lives-of-children or www.kalamazooliteracy.org to fill out the interest form and get answers to frequently asked questions. There will be a series of free, public information sessions announced in February.
The Edison Early Childhood Education Career Pathway is a partnership between YWCA Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Literacy Council, Southwest Child Care Resources, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan, The Kalamazoo Promise, Western Michigan University, Youth Opportunities Unlimited, Kalamazoo County Great Start Collaborative, Van Buren ISD, Kalamazoo County Ready 4s, Michigan Works! Southwest, El Concilio, KRESA, and Change Agent Consulting, LLC.