BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Schools across the country are facing early childhood education shortages due to the pandemic. Centers in Michigan are no different. In Battle Creek, there is a new program working to help residents get the proper training to land good-paying teaching jobs. It also makes sure there are enough teachers ready to meet the big demand.
Maude Bristol-Perry loves working with kids. For the last 50 years, she's been serving Battle Creek families at her business, Sugar and Spice Childcare Center.
"I had my credentials for CDA back 15 maybe 20 years ago, but I didn't renew my license, I didn't renew my credentials," said Bristol-Perry.
Life got in the way, and for Maude, going back to school required too much time and money. That's until she heard about the early childhood career pathway program.
"I did it in the summer, program the accelerated program, and I really worked to get that done," said Bristol-Perry.
The program put on by the Community Action Agency is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and some other community partners. Applicants get a child development associate credential, a program that could cost close to $3,000 for free.
"People can come in with their high school diploma or equivalent, go through this program and receive their CDA credential which can help them actually receive an assistant teacher role and that assistant teacher role is generally a full-time job and can qualify for benefits," said Michelle Williamson, CEO of the Community Action Agency.
Williamson continued, "We also pay up to 100 hours of training time for them to actually participate in this program so it helps with the barriers that they may have of childcare and whatever else they have."
The demand right now for these jobs is huge. Childcare centers are filling up as people go back to work, and more teachers and aids are needed than ever before.
"We get many calls saying do you have a job available in childcare. And I say yes what kind of qualifications do you have? And typically, they say I have children, or I babysat in the community, and I say well we need a little bit more than that," said Bristol-Perry.
Sugar and Spice is hiring 5 new staff members, but they need to be certified. Having that CDC is a pathway to a good job, and then to an associates or bachelor's degree.
The program is allowing Maude to update her facility and add in more classrooms. Plus, she has the peace of mind that the teacher pipeline is going to be full of qualified, credentialed candidates.
"Now we can say yes there is a program, you can come in at entry level and then we will prepare them and get them ready," said Bristol-Perry.
If you are interested in applying for this program follow this link for an application: https://careerszero2five.org/