Director of Early Educator Success, Yolanda Willis
If you live in North Texas and are involved in early childhood education in any capacity, you’ve likely heard about Camp Fire’s Early Education Apprenticeship Program.
This ground-breaking program has been making waves since its inception in 2019. It’s the first of its kind in the Lone Star State, is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor, and is backed by several stellar community partnerships.
On Saturday, August 19, Camp Fire First Texas hosted its third Early Education Apprenticeship Program Graduation Ceremony. It was exciting to see 35 apprentices who met all program requirements receive their non-expiring certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor and 19 apprentices receive their Child Development Associate credential from the Council of Professional Recognition. The apprentices also received stipends for coursework and program completion totaling $52,500.
While the third program graduation was undoubtedly a milestone, we’re not stopping there. In some ways, we’re just getting started.
Here’s what we’ve been working on for the program to help child care workers go even higher.
The Camp Fire Early Education team is putting together a recruitment plan for apprentices to help build a career pathway and academic success for early educators. Incredibly, the program accepted 95 early educator members into the Fall 2023 cohort, all employed at licensed child care centers or home family care in their respective communities.
The 2023 Early Education Apprenticeship Program Graduation Ceremony was one for the books.
The program’s expansion with two new occupations for the Associate and Bachelor levels has succeeded. The Fall cohort includes 37 returning and 49 new apprentices, each receiving a minimum of 144 – up to 192 clock hours per year for related instruction. This averages out to about 4,746 clock hours per program year.
The rollout of the two new occupations has allowed early educators to work towards an Associate degree from three partnered community colleges and their Bachelor’s degree from Tarleton State University.
The Camp Fire Early Education team has also been improving areas where challenges exist while creating a sustainable structure of coordinating with our four partner colleges and universities to ensure a smooth payment transition for tuition and books for apprentices. We also plan to incorporate an Academic Progress Report to monitor apprentices’ success rate from beginning to end, which will be collected two times per semester (Fall/Spring).
Overall, the Camp Fire Early Education team has enabled child care workers to build a career pathway while ensuring academic success. Higher is what we aim for!