SALINAS — Thanks to the investment of a state grant of nearly $500,000, Hartnell College is poised to provide students with more equitable access to early childhood education.
The three-year grant, awarded to Hartnell last month through the California Apprenticeship Initiative, will be used to develop an early childhood pathway/learning program to be launched by the college next fall. Once established, the inaugural program will guide 25 students a year into a future in early childhood education, with a focus on future teachers who face income and language barriers.
Ultimately, Hartnell hopes that these not only free but paid apprenticeships will serve a dual purpose of training new child care professionals for Monterey County while also initiating those who may not have had the opportunity to do otherwise.
“Nobody can go to work if they don’t have somewhere to send their kids in the morning,” said Iván Pagan, director of the Hartnell-based Salinas Valley Adult Education Consortium. “(So) early childhood education is kind of the backbone that all other industries depend on.”
Pagan and his team at the Salinas Valley Adult Education Consortium — a semi-autonomous organization that operates in tandem with Hartnell — brought the idea of instilling more equity into early childhood education to middle school more than a decade ago. ‘a year. After speaking with community members and teachers at Hartnell, Pagan saw an ongoing trend of English as a second language (ESL) students dropping out of early childhood education classes due to a language barrier, said he explained.
So the Salinas Valley Adult Education Consortium began laying the groundwork for a different and accessible pipeline into the professional field, starting with a pre-apprenticeship program. Launched last fall, the anticipation initiative enrolled 20 students in preparatory seminars and an English as a second language course suitable for early childhood education, held at the Soledad Education Center in Hartnell and Soledad Adult School.
“This year, we’re giving (students) a head start so that as they begin their learning, they have the boost they need to succeed in the program,” Pagan said.
According to a press release announcing the program this week, this initial cohort, along with other incoming students, will immediately begin apprenticeships with local child care providers this fall, while also taking education classes. of early childhood in Hartnell. Grant funds will pay for student services such as counseling and tutoring, administrative support, employer incentives, and technical assistance from support agencies.
Participation offers students the opportunity to earn a total of three early childhood education licenses—assistant teacher, associate teacher, and teacher—and 41 college credits, or about two-thirds of the way to an associate degree. in Hartnell, the college said.
“They’ll work 1,000 hours in year one and 1,000 hours in year two while they’re taking classes,” Pagan said. “They will study part-time and work part-time, and they will be paid for those hours.”
With the grant in hand, Hartnell is now establishing a joint learning committee comprised of employers and early childhood educators as well as community organizations that will help develop salary standards and competency goals, as well as to get official state approval for apprenticeship. plan. Committee members will include the Monterey County Office of Education – which contributed $15,000 to the learning effort – United Way Monterey County, child development advocacy organizations like Bright Beginnings and First 5 Monterey County, Early Development Services in Salinas and the Hartnell College Foundation.
Sonia Jaramilla, Program Director for the MCOE Early Learning Program who has been involved in planning the grant-funded initiative from the start, expressed her gratitude for the early childhood pathways that will soon be made available. students. In a press release, Jaramillo said she knows how difficult it is to hire qualified pre-kindergarten teachers, especially in the face of financial constraints and language barriers.
“They want to and can do it, but without the qualifications in place, it’s very difficult for them to get into any of these positions,” she continued. But by earning money as an apprentice while gaining the necessary skills and credentials, parents can say, “’I can make some money. I don’t have to starve because I go to school. This grant is an incredible opportunity for our families.
Prospective students interested in learning more about the apprenticeship program can contact Salinas Valley Adult Education Program Assistant Christian Regaldo at (831) 386-105 or [email protected] No previous experience in early childhood education is required. Participants must be qualified to work in the United States, although program organizers said they are exploring ways to provide the same opportunities to people without immigration documents. More information is available at https://svaec.org/ecepathway/.