The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Apprenticeship program grants child care employees credit hours

Photo curtesy campfire program

Mary Katherine Owens

Camp Fire First Texas

partnered with TCC, offering child care employees in the surrounding area up to nine college credits hours through the new Early Education Apprenticeship Program.

Lisa Self, TCC coordinator for the program, said offering college credit for child care employees in the metroplex creates easier access for child development education, and the Camp Fire’s apprenticeship classes meet accreditation standards for higher education.
Eboni Kelly, director of the Early Educ

ation Apprenticeship Program with Camp Fire, said they had to partner with child care centers in the area, calling them “Host Sites.”

“A host site is a child care center in which the director or owner have agreed to terms that are outlined by both the Department of Labor and Camp Fire,” Kelly said.

Camp Fire’s partnership with TCC started two years ago because of the established standing relationship between the institutions, said Lyn Lucas, vice president of Early Education Workforce Development for Camp Fire. Even during the pandemic, the program took off with 20 apprentices, each student working at their own pace.

“These folks are working, but they are also taking these classes and learning about how to do everything that they do every day, better,” Self said.

Nelly Betancourt, TCC child development intern, discusses a story book with Nathan Molina, a student in the Children’s Center on NE Campus. The center is a training ground for students who want to work in the child care area, which is a field that has a large turnover in jobs because of salaries, paperwork, poor training and unappreciative parents, according to the first part in this series on student jobs. Photo by Brandon Tompkins/The Collegian

Maria Sanchez has been in the apprenticeship program for the last seven months.

“I have really amazing teachers and mentors working with me,” she said. “I am glad I got to be in this apprenticeship program.”

Lyn Lucas said the community has a shortage of quality child care, and Camp Fire is working to help relieve this issue.

“The apprenticeship program bridges the gap between in-the-field experiential learning and college opportunities — giving value to and recognizing each effort along the way,” Lucas said.

Lucas and Self agree on the need for better child care. Quality care is important, but sadly, quality education is lacking, Lucas said..

“This has been a difficult bar to reach for many teachers already in the field, particularly in low-income, low-resourced communities,” Lucas said.

Self said participants could get a pay raise and bonuses for meeting milestones like finishing a course. She said with the incentive of pay raises and up to $2,000 in grants, the opportunities for education increase.

Sanchez plans to continue on an academic path following her mother’s example, who received her college degree later in life.

“Once I am done with the apprenticeship, I will keep working on my associates degree and then work on a bachelor’s degree,” Sanchez said.

Camp Fire needed a higher education partner to write the grant and approached TCC, Self said. The need came out of a desire for better-equipped child care employees — something she said was a long-standing issue.

“You have a lot of people in child care that just walked in the door and got the job and don’t have a lot of training, which leads to not great quality child care,” Self said.

The significance of this program is the impact it will have long-term, and Self said TCC’s child development department is excited to see the effect it will have on the community.

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