In 2017, twenty child care employees from across the state completed Vermont’s Child Care Apprenticeship Program. This program is designed for newer employees in the field and involves documenting 4,000 hours of supervised work in a regulated child care program, completing a sequence of 6 college courses, and completing at least 27 hours of community based training. It typically takes 2 years of hard work and dedication to complete.
According to recent graduate, Maggie Rubick, it’s well worth the effort. Maggie writes, “I am very grateful for the experiences and opportunities that Apprenticeship has provided. This program allowed me to go back to school when I couldn’t afford to take classes, and helped me ‘find myself’ within this profession… Most importantly, though, I feel like I have so much more to offer the children and families I work with, and I am a more valuable asset to my program (Northshire Day School in Manchester Center). My identity as an educator has been shaped by Apprenticeship, and this program has helped open doors to further education that previously seemed locked or inaccessible. I am grateful for VCCICC’s support [and] I will be looking for ways to give back.”
In addition to the 20 recent graduates, over 60 apprentices are currently working at 45 different child care sites across the state. Local child care employers agree to sponsor apprentices by matching them with mentors in the workplace and providing weekly release time for mentoring activity. Mentors are more experienced employees who are willing to support a coworker’s growth on the job. They observe apprentices working with children and assess what they are doing well and where they could use support in building their skills. Mentors also help apprentices look for opportunities to apply what they learn in in the college coursework to their work with children and families.
The Child Care Apprenticeship Program helps employers too, who need qualified staff to provide optimal care and learning experiences for the children and families they serve. Tiffany Bergeron, owner of Frog & Toad Child Care and Learning Centers in Burlington and Essex, says that apprenticeship, “means improvement to our field, improved services to children, and a more prepared workforce.” Apprentices who complete the program have a better understanding of all aspects of running a successful child care program, from best practices in teaching young children, to managing a budget and operating the business.
The Child Care Apprenticeship Program offers a clear path for professional development and is often the first step towards a college degree in Early Childhood Education.
The Vermont Child Care Industry and Careers Council (VCCICC) runs the Child Care Apprenticeship Program in collaboration with the VT Department of Labor. Funding comes primarily from the State of Vermont Agency of Human Services, Department for Children and Families, Child Development Division; as well as private donations and memberships. For the past 2 years, Vermont’s Early Learning Challenge / Race to the Top Grant funded the sequence of apprenticeship courses in several areas of the state. Currently, courses in Springfield and Bennington are supported in part by the Vermont Department of Labor’s Workforce Education and Training Fund. Moving forward, VCCICC will be seeking additional support from businesses and other industries that benefit from high quality child care in Vermont. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, please be in touch!