$1 Million Grant Aids Carlow in Forming Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship Program

Carlow University is creating the Western Pennsylvania Early Childhood Apprenticeship Hub, which will improve the quality of childcare of throughout the state of Pennsylvania by making higher education more accessible to childcare workers.

“The focus of the Apprenticeship Hub is on opening access and reducing barriers to school enrollment and degree attainment for working adults,” said Keely Baronak, EdD, executive director of The Campus Laboratory School at Carlow and chair of the Department of Education. “This is especially critical for diversification of the teacher pipelines.”

The $1 Million grant from an anonymous donor will support Carlow’s efforts to reduce those barriers and encourage more childcare workers to complete their degrees or pursue advanced degrees.

“We are thrilled to receive this funding which has the potential to improve early childhood education throughout western Pa.,” said Baronak. “This work dovetails with our $1.2 million grant award this past spring awarded by NSF in support of STEM scholarships for those pursing teaching certification in Biology, Chemistry, and Math.”

Carlow’s Apprenticeship Hub is the first four-year apprenticeship model in early childhood education approved by the State of Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor.

The Hub will provide supports necessary to elevate the current childcare workforce, support degree completion, and increase the quality of childcare through the state. This will be accomplished by addressing any barriers that may prevent childcare workers from attaining their bachelor’s degree or any additional credentials.

Students in Carlow’s apprenticeship program will complete 24 credits of their degree on-the-job with the support of mentors and coaches. Additional education courses will be completed in the evening and online to accommodate working adults. In addition, a one-month paid practicum in an elementary setting will provide invaluable field experiences needed in pursuit of Pre K-4 teacher certification.

In 2018, Carlow University’s Early Childhood Education Program was awarded an Innovative Programs for Pennsylvania’s Early Childhood Education Workforce grant from the state’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning. The grant was awarded to ensure that early childhood education professionals have the required knowledge and skills to help all young children learn and develop. Through this grant, Carlow developed the first four-year Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship Program in the state of Pennsylvania. Rae Ann Hirsh, D.Ed., program director for Early Childhood Education led this project and will directly oversee the new work of the Apprenticeship Hub. She is also an invited member of the Higher Education Consortium, a group working to bring apprenticeship programs to institutions of higher education across Pennsylvania.

“Our new apprenticeship program not only provides a pathway to credential and degree attainment for child care professionals, but also a supportive pathway for high quality care for Pennsylvania’s children,” said Hirsh.

Carlow’s Education Department – via the Apprenticeship Hub – will be coordinating the efforts of several community partners. Carlow’s Apprenticeship Program will also align with pre-apprenticeship high school partnerships that the university has already established. The Teacher Education Program recently finalized a formal articulation agreement with Nazareth Prep and Pittsburgh Public Schools through their Career and Technical Education.

For more information about how to qualify for the Western Pennsylvania Apprenticeship Hub, please contact Rae Ann Hirsh, D.Ed. at rahirsh@carlow.edu or Pam Zimmerman at plzimmerman@carlow.edu or call (412) 578-6014.

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