Fort Worth, Texas (August 2, 2019) – On Monday, July 29 the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) approved the first Early Education Apprenticeship Program in Texas. This new program will be administered by Camp Fire First Texas in North Texas.

“The approval from the DOL is a critical factor for the Early Education Apprentice Program (EEAP) because it solidifies the program as a state-recognized apprenticeship which includes a state issued, non-expiring Child Care Development Specialist credential in addition to providing support of mandatory wage increases, on-the-job learning, coaching from a highly-skilled early education mentor, and accumulation of college credit,” said Lyn Lucas, Chief Program Officer at Camp Fire First Texas.

“An Early Education Apprenticeship Program lifts the earning potential and professionalism of a vital industry, while also improving the availability for families to access quality early educational experience for their children through professional and skilled early educators,” explained Mayor Betsy Price about the impact of Camp Fire’s EEAP. “Programs such as these get to the heart of supporting economic development in our community.”

Camp Fire First Texas has been working in the sphere of professional development for early childhood professionals for more than two decades to the benefit of both the professionalism of teachers and quality of education for children age 0 – 5 years.

Spanning multiple years, children’s success in the Camp Fire School Readiness program demonstrated that when a high-quality teacher is in the classroom, children’s scores for math, early literacy and social-emotional development outpaced their peers upon entering Kindergarten, and through the early elementary education years.*

“There was an opportunity to seize on a School Readiness proven piece of data and extrapolate it into a dedicated program that not only benefits the children but also elevates the profession of early childhood educators. When we looked outward to states and programs who did that the best, it was through an apprenticeship model – and that is what we have built,” explained Lucas.

The two-year EEAP will begin accepting applications and admitting the inaugural group of apprentices in early 2020 and will run congruent to collegiate schedules when classes begin in August. The inaugural class will enroll 20 individuals. Upon completion of the EEAP, apprentices will:

  1. Earn a non-expiring Child Care Development Specialist Certificate from the Department of Labor
  2. Earn college credit through Tarrant County College and Tarleton State University
  3. Have their apprenticeship experience recognized by the Texas Early Childhood Career Lattice for Practitioners
  4. Be able to negotiate for higher wages

“Following the inaugural class in August 2020, we plan to enroll another 20-plus early educators to the program annually. We will continue to explore and engage a multitude of partners and sources of sustainable funding as the program grows and our apprentices graduate,” said Lucas.

Camp Fire First Texas Early Education Apprenticeship Program (EEAP) will be offered in partnership with: Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County, Tarrant County Community College, Tarleton State University, and T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Texas. Funding support has been provided by: George and Faye Young Foundation, The Miles Foundation, Rainwater Charitable Foundation, Sid Richardson Foundation, and Tarrant County United Way.

*Camp Fire School Readiness 2017-18 Report. Previous year’s reports available upon request.