IR #2003-12
Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Dean Fryer

Department of Industrial Relations launches child development educator
apprenticeship in Kern County

San Francisco - The Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) is introducing its new child development educator apprenticeship program to prospective employers, school districts and social service resource agencies in Kern County Dec. 12.

Boosted by a $350,000 federal grant, DAS is expanding and improving California's child development educator apprenticeships in response to the well-documented shortage of employees in the early childhood field.

"This new apprenticeship program is a win-win for all," said Suzanne Marria, Department of Industrial Relations acting chief deputy director. "It benefits workers seeking a career in child development and employers operating preschool or before and after school programs. Parents and employers also benefit from a local childcare workforce providing quality care."

Reliable, quality childcare can help local employers reduce significant human resource costs due to absenteeism and turnover and help communities redirect public school funding from remedial programs to their general curriculum.

Apprentices earn while they learn through planned, supervised work on-the-job combined with related classroom instruction. The child development educator apprenticeship is the first of its kind, with upward mobility on a career ladder built in.

Depending on education and experience, apprentices start at one of the program's four tiers, and become certified in that tier after 2,000 hours of training, which usually takes one to two years. Apprentices can then move up in 2,000-hour increments, becoming certified at each tier, or they may choose to stay at any of the levels.

The DAS apprenticeship standards recommend each level's educational component be college-transferable, allowing apprentices to finish the program with a degree in early childhood education.

California's childcare industry plays a key role in the state's economy. According to a recent study by the National Economic Development & Law Center (NEDLC), total employment in the field exceeds employment levels in legal services, computer and office equipment industries. In addition to directly producing revenue for thousands of workers, the child development educator field supports economic development by providing parents viable childcare services.

DAS chose Kern County using NEDLC economic impact studies and works in partnership with NEDLC to present the data. At the Dec. 12 outreach visit, NELDC staff will identify Kern County's specific needs, after which DAS will explain how apprenticeship programs can fill them.

DAS plans similar outreach workshops in Alameda, Napa/Solano, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Workshops were already held in Humboldt, Butte, Merced and Ventura counties.

For more information on child development educator apprenticeships, visit the DAS Web site at


Editor note: Interviews with working apprentices and employers in San Joaquin County, where the program is already in existence, can be arranged.