The Hartnell College program aims to provide childcare services to the community

Child care was a barrier for parents and caregivers long before the pandemic, but a new program at Hartnell College aims to make the fight easier for the community.

The college received a grant of nearly $500,000 from the state to continue training and early childhood education opportunities for students.

Hartnell students seeking a career in early childhood education will be able to participate in a two-year paid apprenticeship through the Early Childhood Pathways/Apprenticeship (ECPAP) program. The college is currently setting up a collaboration of local employers who can hire apprentices to work with children on their sites.

Ivan Pagan, director of the Salinas Valley Adult Education Consortium, said the opportunity came at a critical time, citing shortages of teachers and child care staff across the country.

“When the pandemic hit, it made things worse. Many child care centers have closed so parents have had to stay home and look after their children,” he said. “Another thing that makes it difficult is that childcare is generally a low-paying profession, which makes it difficult to attract people to the profession.”

Pagan says the program will not only benefit local parents in need of childcare and preschools, but will also help aspiring students get the free education they need while earning an income and growing. taking courses along the way.

He explains that most training programs in other schools do not provide remuneration for this type of work for students. The program also emphasizes the integration of adult English learners, as Pagan says language has been a barrier to entry for many.

Although Pagan says there is a lot of excitement about the program, he points out that there is a challenge for undocumented students who have expressed an interest in the program but who may not have the “right to work”, because that is one of the requirements.

He says the college is working on a solution so undocumented students can also get the training they need.

“What we’re trying to do is develop a parallel pathway for undocumented students so that they can also gain work experience by participating in this program,” he said. “We just want to get the message out so that undocumented people don’t feel like, ‘I’m not eligible, I might as well not even call.’ We try to do something for them.

So far, around 20 people have signed up for the pre-learning phase and the requests keep coming in.

Places will be limited.

Hartnell plans to launch two-year early childhood education apprenticeship programs in August. Pagan says Hartnell will seek additional funding to sustain the program for the long term.

Students interested in the apprenticeship program can call Christian Regalado at (831) 386-7105. More information about the program is available at: https://svaec.org/ecepathway/?fbclid=IwAR2SHMr0rFwFEtIhtfyDItsuYdWXKC8pEBtpSo4diOwqUxDsGTEeA_4nR6U

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