Thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Department of Labor, Lincoln Littles is holding a free six-week training course this July and August for those interested in working in the early childcare field. As a bonus incentive, those who take the course and go to work at an early childcare center will receive $5,000 to help subsidize their own childcare costs over the following year.
“Obviously, there is a workforce shortage in early childcare, impacting everyone’s ability to go to work, and part of our mission is to elevate these voices, increase workforce numbers and increase the quality of employees,” said Lameakia Collier, Wellness Workforce Navigator for Lincoln Littles.
Collier said you have to ask the key questions: How do we re-engage the early childcare workforce? How do we create conditions for less burnout and less turnover?
This is a brand-new concept in Lincoln, Collier explained, providing a six-week certificate for entry-level early childcare training. “We may not be able to raise the hourly wage right now, but we can help incentivize a job package,” she said. “If you add the childcare credit to the childcare bonus, we believe the take-home pay will definitely add up to more.”
The class is open to 50 participants and there are no income requirements, she said. “This training is for anyone who is interested in working in early childcare, but we are specifically targeting parents who may not believe it would pay to go to work, perhaps parents who left the workforce because childcare was too expensive.”
Collier described the theme of the program as “Building connections, capacity and confidence in the early childhood workforce.”
With a goal of finding new early childcare workers by the start of the new school year this fall, Collier outlined some of the basic lessons in the six-week summer training.
- Introduction to early childhood growth and development, stages of children as infants, toddlers, preschoolers.
- The importance of inclusion, diversity.
- Approaches to learning, play exploration, social/emotional development.
- Preparation for life in the work force: How to practice for an interview, write a resume.
- Career development and the possibility of continued education at Southeast Community College.
- Health and safety training.
- Childcare center visits.
- A panel of early childcare providers to talk about their personal experiences and rewards.
Participants will also get a graduation and celebration reception, and can participate in a job fair featuring possible interviews with community childcare providers.
The grant also will cover a special focus on diversifying the early childcare workforce, Collier continued, with marketing to diverse groups and organizations, as well as provider networks.
“We know this is only a short-term solution,” Collier said. “For long-term relief we will need to look at serious policy change, now and into the future. But for now, we’re excited about this program.”
The public can register for the Childcare Teachers Foundations class at LincolnLittles.org.