City of Cambridge Celebrates First Cohort of Early Childhood Education Career Training Program
6/9/2023 • 9 months ago
On Thursday, June 1, sixteen participants in the inaugural Early Childhood Education Career Training Program gathered at Raymond Park with their family members and City staff to celebrate their completion of the pilot program. Over the course of eight months, they completed online early childhood coursework, worked in a licensed early childhood program in Cambridge, and received coaching to prepare them to earn the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.
The program was created in response to feedback from early childhood educators and preschool directors that it was crucial to have more educators to support the early childhood community, especially in the wake of unprecedented strain on programs and staff from the Covid-19 pandemic. In response,
the Cambridge Office of Early Childhood , in partnership with the Department of Human Service Programs' Community Learning Center and Office of Workforce Development, designed a pilot program to help early childhood educators earn their CDA, a nationally recognized credential that leads to opportunities for career growth and advancement.
The Early Childhood Education Career Training Program offers two tracks: an internship track for people interested in entering the early childhood education field and a scholarship track for people currently working in Cambridge preschools who are interested in obtaining their CDA. The scholarship track includes online CDA coursework, coaching, and support to prepare for the CDA exam. All program participants (seven in the scholarship track and nine in the internship track) are on their way to earning their credential by the end of June.
"As a new teacher, it was such an amazing experience to learn as much as I could and to network with other teachers in my area," said Armani Boutros, a teacher at the Cambridge YMCA Preschool who participated in the program’s scholarship track. “My program mentor and my peers have been so supportive during this process of learning. We had bi-weekly meetings about the program, its courses, and the final portfolio. I am so honored and thankful that I was given this opportunity.”
The internship track offered a robust experience for people who are new to the field of early childhood. Interns were paid to work in Cambridge preschools 19 hours a week while simultaneously taking online CDA coursework. Through the program, all nine internship participants received a full-time job offer at a Cambridge preschool, one intern is applying to an early childhood fellowship, and all are on track to complete their CDA credential (once they sit for the exam) by the end of June.
“I was looking for a way to make a career change and this program has been the perfect way to learn and explore early childhood education,” said Becca, a participant in internship track. “The way the program is designed to start you on an internship right away is a great way to put your learning to practical use and to discover if the work is right for you.”
“Being part of this program has helped me become a confident early childhood educator,” said Saida Hussein, another internship track participant. “Not only has it helped me prepare for the work ahead of me, but it has also helped in my personal life and I have learned so much from my classroom teachers, fellow students, and my internship site.
The Early Childhood Education Career Training Program supports Cambridge’s universal preschool initiative, the Cambridge Preschool Program, by creating jobs and career pathways for early childhood educators. In addition to providing free preschool to all Cambridge 4-year-olds and some 3-year-olds, the Cambridge Preschool Program, launching in fall 2024, will prioritize early educator support and strengthen Cambridge’s early childhood workforce.
The Early Childhood Education Career Training Program is currently recruiting for its 2023-2024 cycle, which begins in October. To learn more, sign up for an information session at www.cambridgema.gov/EarlyChildhoodCareer.