South Central Early Childhood Sector Partnership Launches Apprenticeship Program

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In a significant stride to address child care challenges in Fremont, Lake, Chafee and Custer Counties, the South Central Early Childhood Sector Partnership (SCECSP) is unveiling a groundbreaking Apprenticeship program. 


The new Apprenticeship program aims to strengthen the local workforce, provide quality childcare for families, and advance mobility and upskilling opportunities for students who are interested in Early Childhood Education (ECE). 


For many rural communities, the shortage of ECE professionals poses a significant challenge. This year alone, Fremont County's Head Start program closed two classrooms, displacing almost 30 children, a situation that can be terrifying for working parents reliant on childcare. 


“We have been fighting to keep classrooms open and staffed, and the strain is taking its toll on our teachers and leadership, “ said Cheryl Gould, owner of Rocky Mountain Children's Discovery Center and SCECSP sector partner.


“We assumed a leadership role as an industry partner in the ECE sector partnership and apprenticeship pilot because we recognize the urgency of addressing skills-based hiring and credentialing challenges,” says Gould. “We are actively collaborating with educational institutions to craft a skills-focused education program that prioritizes hands-on experience.”


The new apprenticeship program marks a crucial milestone in addressing the growing need for well-trained professionals, who can work immediately, and receive ECE training and college credit. 


“Through our collective efforts, we aim to create a more inclusive pathway for individuals without a traditional educational background, ultimately fortifying the ECE industry and elevating the standard of childcare services,” said Gould.


Pueblo Community College-Fremont Campus staff worked alongside sector partners, connecting them to Apprenticeship Colorado to further explore the possibility of a registered apprenticeship program. 


“We have been fortunate to come together as a unified team to discuss issues in our region and brainstorm ideas to help mitigate these concerns,” said Pueblo Community College Outreach and Special Projects Coordinator Ariana Vigil-Delmerico. 


The South Central Early Childhood Sector Partnership is the sole childcare sector partnership in the state.


“This is a perfect model of sector partnership, with stakeholders who are invested and committed to the work, the promise of a healthy, sustainable ECE community partnership, where children have the professional spaces to develop and flourish.,” said Vigil-Delmerico.


Fremont Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Rob Brown says it's a win-win for all involved.


 “The positive impact of early childhood education apprenticeships in rural Fremont County extends beyond the educational sector, significantly benefiting businesses in the region,” Brown says.


As apprentices gain specialized training in early childhood education, businesses, particularly those involved in childcare services or related industries, witness an influx of well-prepared, skilled professionals entering the workforce. This, in turn, elevates the overall quality of early childhood education programs and services in the community, meeting the needs of working parents and enhancing the local workforce's productivity, says Brown.


Additionally, businesses benefit from a more stable and reliable workforce as apprenticeships contribute to reducing turnover rates by fostering a sense of commitment and loyalty among educators who have been trained within the community. 


“By investing in early childhood education apprenticeships, businesses can actively participate in the development of a skilled workforce, promoting economic growth and sustainability in rural Colorado,” says Brown.


To learn more, please contact Fremont County Sector Partner Convener Diana Armstrong at