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CT works to increase cultural at-home daycares through new apprenticeship program

Nichelle Waddell, owner of Watch Me Grow Daycare in Stamford, takes care of 12 children with four staff members in her home. Waddell is a strong supporter of a bill signed by Governor Lamont in June aimed at helping address a shortage of childcare providers.
Mark Mirko
/
Connecticut Public
Much of the certification costs for childcare providers will soon be covered through a federally backed program being launched in Connecticut.

Connecticut is launching a first-of-its-kind apprenticeship program aimed at easing the state’s early childcare provider shortage.

The apprenticeship, which will enable students to receive a Child Development Associate credential, was devised out of a partnership among the state’s Department of Labor, Office of Early Childhood and the Civil Service Employees Association SEIU chapter.

“Expanding the workforce in this field means increasing access to child care for all workers and helping parents pursue meaningful and successful employment,” Gov. Ned Lamont said.

The program is a federally backed workforce training program that requires a minimum of 2,000 hours of hands-on work experience and hundreds of hours of classroom learning.

“This program will ramp up the capacity and quality of home-based child care with a new class of expert instructors, who will get the credentials and incentives to stay committed to this profession for a lifetime,” Lamont said.

While the certification is available through other programs, the state apprenticeship is different in that it looks to increase language offerings.

Many of the certification costs are paid for as a part of the program, and students are paid for the required hours in the field, according to Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye.

“We know and we really saw this during the pandemic, that family child care homes are supporting child care for so many families, very often in communities that have high needs,” Bye said.

An increase in cultural and linguistic daycare providers will not only allow families with different backgrounds to feel comfortable, but increase children’s exposure to language during their formative years, according to Bye.

“Parents like children to be in programs that are in their neighborhood and where they share cultures and language,” Bye said. “We think this is an important choice for families, and it helps build supply as well.”

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.