Well-qualified early childhood educators are a vital component to providing high-quality early learning and care opportunities for children from birth through age five. As policymakers have come to recognize the importance of these opportunities, state and federal laws have increased credentialing requirements for educators, which helps to improve overall quality but can also make it more difficult to recruit and retain qualified teachers, particularly in low income and rural communities where qualified educator shortages are already pronounced.
To address this issue, some states have instituted early childhood education (ECE) Registered Apprenticeship programs. The apprenticeship model overlays well with the early childhood delivery system, providing on-the-job learning opportunities that feature a lead teacher to mentor and support less experienced staff who could be trained to become lead teachers or more effective support personnel. In this way, ECE apprenticeship programs provide an accessible way for educators to acquire the knowledge and skills they need, along a pathway to the credential or degree needed to advance their career.