An Innovative Way to Address the Teaching Shortage in Early Child Care

addressing the teaching shortage in early childcare

As we ponder on how we got to this daunting state of where to find qualified teaching staff to work in Early Learning facilities, an innovative solution is right under our nose in Early Childcare.

The Early Child Care field does not get the recognition needed; however, there is increasing evidence that learning opportunities in the years before kindergarten significantly impact a child’s performance in school and beyond. 

Early Learning Apprenticeship Program

The Early Learning apprenticeship program at Carlow University is an innovative way to diversify, address the teacher shortage, and remove barriers preventing people from becoming highly qualified teachers in Early Learning Centers. Carlow’s Apprenticeship Program is the first four-year apprenticeship model in early childhood education approved by the State of Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor.

Becoming an Apprentice in the ECE is unique because it allows the student to remain on their job in the Early learning facility and obtain college credits. This also increases the quality of the Learning Center. It is a win-win situation. Master Plumbers, Electricians, and Real Estate Appraisers all begin their careers in apprenticeship-type training; all these professions require hours of working with someone in the field with more experience.

Carlow University has embraced the Early Childhood Apprenticeship program. We have successfully introduced over 100 students to this model of learning. These students come from Pittsburgh and the surrounding regions and are dedicated to working in the Early Childhood field. They are obtaining 24 college credits while working in their Early Learning centers and are being mentored by Carlow staff and coached by teachers and administrators in their Early Learning facility. 

These resources are provided to eliminate barriers that prevent students from being successful. This model is successful because students are able to get the knowledge and the experience by working in a space where they are comfortable. They are perfecting their skills while working.

“The focus of the Apprenticeship Hub is on opening access and reducing barriers to school enrollment and degree attainment for working adults,” said Keely Baronak, EdD, executive director of The Campus Laboratory School at Carlow and chair of the Department of Education. “This is especially critical for diversification of the teacher pipelines.”

President Kathy W. Humphrey announced the receipt of the institution’s single largest grant in its history. An anonymous benefactor contributed $12 million to endow the Western Pennsylvania Early Childhood Apprenticeship Hub at Carlow for the benefit of future generations.

Tammi McMillan

Tammi McMillan is the Director of the Teacher Diversification program and coordinates the Early Childhood High School in College Program at Carlow University. She completed her Doctoral studies at Point Park University; her study was “The Overview of The African American Male Teacher and His Relevance Today.”