FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky is one of the first states in the nation to establish an early childhood administrator director apprenticeship to elevate the professional development and careers of the early childhood workforce. Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman recognized the inaugural class of nearly 60 early childhood administrator director apprentices during the March 15 Early Childhood Institute opening in Louisville.
“Kentuckians deserve a world-class education system and that starts at birth with robust accessibility to high-quality early childhood education. The people who work in our early childhood education centers need more opportunities to increase their training and master their skills through innovative, on-the-job work experiences,” said Lt. Gov. Coleman.
The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood (GOEC), Office of Employer and Apprenticeship Services (OEAS) and the Kentucky Division of Child Care developed the new apprenticeship program to give child care professionals in the field an opportunity to expand their knowledge and expertise while they are working and earning a paycheck at an early childhood provider. The apprenticeship program is part of GOEC’s strategic plan to strengthen and expand the early childhood workforce by giving workers an innovative career path to success, reducing high turnover and developing and recognizing the importance of this essential industry.
“Too often, early childhood career practitioners are undervalued, overlooked and unappreciated even though they are responsible for our most precious gifts, our children. Early childhood professionals are typically women who make low wages and benefits and do not have a pathway to advance in the field. This does not reflect the importance of their jobs. The apprenticeship program will elevate the profession, offer a career ladder, and give education and training opportunities that are flexible and do not put a financial burden on students,” Coleman added.
Kentucky’s early childhood administrator director apprenticeship will strengthen the workforce by giving workers a pathway to advanced qualifications and certifications to better care for children in the birth to three-year age range. The apprenticeship is a 4,000-hour, on-the-job training program that includes 288 hours dedicated to related technical instruction and leads to a professional nationally recognized credential.
“A strong educational foundation starts at birth. We cannot wait until a child enters kindergarten to provide a high-quality learning environment because all too often, once a child starts behind, they stay behind,” according to Amy Neal, executive director, GOEC. “High-quality early care and education also supports working families. Additionally, it gives early childhood caregivers and teachers a professional pathway that prepares them to lead and own child care businesses, attracts new talent and promotes a workforce solution for a profession that needs qualified people.”
Currently, about half of Kentucky’s children are not ready to learn when they start kindergarten and that negatively affects their school experience. The Early Childhood Institute brings together national and state experts and organizations to train child care professionals, promote the use of data-driven information, present best practices and give local early childhood councils the help they need to develop a strong plan to get their children ready to learn on the first day of kindergarten.
The Kentucky Governor’s Office of Early Childhood is the umbrella organization that unifies partners to overcome fragmented funding and programs with better alignment, coordination, efficiencies and concise messaging for more positive impact upon early childhood policy and practice. GOEC offers Early Childhood Institute as a year-round series of professional development training opportunities. For more information on GOEC, visit https://kyecac.ky.gov/Pages/index.aspx. GOEC is in the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.