Preparing an early education workforce for East Bay has innovative head start

580 200 Ed Coghlan

(Photo Credit: Violeta Vaqueiro/CAFwd)

The California Economic Summit will honor three public-private partnerships for innovative workforce development at the Summit's annual statewide gathering in San Diego November 2-3. As part of the Summit's Partnerships for Industry and Education (PIE) Contest, we're featuring one of the winning efforts, a distinct approach that benefits early education in the San Francisco East Bay region.

Randi Wolfe, PhD, president of TIKKUN Consulting, was interviewed by CAEconomy about the winning partnership in the East Bay.

CAEconomy:  Who came up with the idea of the partnership and how did you organize it? 

Dr. Wolfe: Because the Head Start program at the YMCA of the East Bay has a collective bargaining agreement with SEIU Local 1021, there is ongoing collaboration and communication between them. When SEIU learned that the YMCA was launching an apprenticeship program last summer, and the YMCA learned that through the SEIU Early Educator Training Center (SETC) the union was developing several state-registered apprenticeships, the advantages of a partnership were obvious. The California Apprenticeship Initiative presented the perfect opportunity to formalize the partnership, expand the YMCA’s apprenticeship, and replicate/expand the SEIU Early Educator Apprenticeship that had been piloted in L.A. County.

What were you trying to achieve?

We aimed to adapt the SEIU Early Educator Apprenticeship to meet the unique professional development and training needs of the Head Start sector of the early care and education workforce. Another goal was to fully incorporate the YMCA apprenticeship into a larger, multi-faceted program. The YMCA apprenticeship, which focuses on providing unemployed Head Start parents with an on-ramp to entering the field of early care and education, became Tier 1 of the Head Start Apprenticeship. Tiers 2 and 3 resemble the upper level tiers of the SEIU Early Educator Apprenticeship and focus on supporting Head Start workers to earn AA and BA degrees in order to meet the Head Start training requirements for teachers and master teachers.

How have the students benefited?

Students have received individualized academic guidance and advisement, which is essential for this group of non-traditional students. They have also participated in college classes as part of an apprenticeship cohort, and the benefits of learning with peers are enormous. The program allows them to take no-cost college courses (tuition is paid for), have textbooks paid for, and take classes at times and in locations that are responsive to their work schedules and family responsibilities.

How have employers benefited?

Employers have benefited by having teachers who are better trained, better prepared, and more confident in their knowledge and competency as early childhood professionals. Employers have also benefited by having a greater pool of entry-level workers who are well trained, thereby beginning to address the enormous shortage of Head Start workers.

For the last six years, the California Economic Summit has been working on making workforce preparation an imperative. What can other employers and educators learn from your partnership?

Partnerships such as the Head Start Apprenticeship represent a win-win proposition. Incumbent workers receive the kind of support and services needed to succeed academically and professionally. Unemployed parents are offered an on-ramp to the field of early care and education, and the opportunity to continue moving up the ECE career ladder. Employers have a better-trained, more competent workforce and a pool of well-trained entry-level employees. Institutions of higher education can enroll and graduate non-traditional students who need and benefit from college access but who, without the “safety net” provided through the program, would face significant barriers to college enrollment and academic success.

To register for the California Economic Summit on November 2-3 and hear from people representing each of the three winning partnerships, click here.  


Ed Coghlan

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