CSEA CHAMPIONS APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM TO INCREASE
EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES & WAGES
In early December, a press conference featuring Governor Ned Lamont, Department of Labor Commissioner Danté Bartolomeo, and Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye unveiled CSEA’s latest initiative—the Registered Child Care Apprenticeship Program. The program is designed to help address the critical wage crisis among child care educators by providing a new avenue to achieve the National Association of Family Child Care (NAFCC) accreditation, which under the CSEA Care4Kids contract provides significant wage increases.
In Connecticut, approximately 50% of the state is classified as being childcare deserts, with shortages of providers causing long wait lists. Shockingly, from 2019 to 2021, 28% of childcare providers left the field for better-paying jobs outside childcare. The crisis impacts not only providers and the working families they serve, but also has serious ramifications to our economy.
The Apprenticeship Program: A Small Step in a Larger Struggle
The apprenticeship program is just one facet of the larger battle our union is leading to address the ongoing and worsening child care crisis. While the press conference celebrated the framework for creating an exciting new professional development opportunity for providers, there continues to be a pressing need for broader discussions on fundamental issues like health care access and fair wages—key components missing from the current childcare landscape.
CSEA Union Leader Maria Amado, who is the NAFCC 2023 Accredited Provider of the Year, was the featured speaker at the press conference. Her accomplishments as a model child care educator shine a spotlight on the potential of family child care educators , and she stands as an ideal mentor for those advancing their careers.
Upon completion of the Apprenticeship Program, licensed providers receive a 12.5% wage increase, on top of the 22% wage increase over the next 2 years, along with their CDA credential NAFCC accreditation. However, these qualifications are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. CDA courses at Community Colleges across the state, essential for mentor qualification, face uncertainties due to on-going higher education funding challenges. CDA courses in Spanish have also been cut at Capital Community College for many years.
Union Advocacy: Looking Beyond the Program
While the press conference celebrated the union-led initiative, President Travis Woodward and Maria Amado highlighted the need to address critical gaps. Many child care educators, for instance, lack reliable, affordable healthcare coverage. And, despite the large raises negotiated in the current CSEA/Care-4-Kids Collective Bargaining Agreement, wages continue to be inadequate.
While it is important to take a moment to celebrate the new apprenticeship program, much more is needed to address the child care crisis. The Registered Apprenticeship Program marks progress, but CSEA child care educators will continue to lead the charge to demand comprehensive healthcare and wage reform.