Apprenticeships offered in Early Childhood Education

Mar 13, 2023Gail Crutchfield
Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship

Representatives of Wallace State Community College, Athens State University, Community Action Partnership of North Alabama, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, and Alabama Department of Apprenticeship gathered to launch the new Early Childhood Educator Apprenticeship Program.

Hanceville, AL — Wallace State Community College’s Child Development program is working to simultaneously help students earn a salary while completing their education and lessen workforce shortages in the field of early childhood education. 

The Early Childhood Educator Apprenticeship program is a partnership between Wallace State, Athens State University (ASU) and Community Action Partnership of North Alabama (CAPNA). Students at either Wallace State or ASU, who apply and are accepted into the program can work at one of the Head Start, Early Head Start or Pre-K programs operated by CAPNA in their 15-county service area. As an online program at Wallace State, that means the door is open to many opportunities for students across Alabama to earn and learn at the same time.  

Within the partnership, apprenticeships are not limited to Wallace State and Athens States students. They are also available for incumbent workers with CAPNA and members of the public interested in entering the field. 

“To meet Gov. Ivey’s plans to increase the number of early learning and Pre-K programs in the state, which are vital to our future, we need pathways such as this one that bridge education and employment and pair experienced educators with emerging ones in an early childhood pathway. This apprenticeship program is essential for producing the outstanding workforce of early childhood educators our children and grandchildren deserve.” 

— WSCC President Dr. Vicki Karolewics

“In alignment with the goals of the Success Plus plan and Gov. Kay Ivey’s Strong Start, Strong Finish initiative, the Early Childhood Educator Apprenticeship will increase the quality of care in the early childhood setting, create opportunities to upskill incumbent workers and articulate coursework seamlessly between the community college and university,” said Dr. LaTonya Sibley of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. “This apprenticeship provides an opportunity to increase the number of highly qualified early childhood educators in the workforce as apprentices, engage in on-the-job learning with a mentor and complete related technical instruction from institutions of higher education.” 

“This partnership is important because we know that children with access to high quality early education programs have better math, language, and social skills that improve long-term educational outcomes,” said Lisa German Vice President for Learning and Dean of Health Sciences. 

“This is historic in a lot of ways because we are creating a new structure and a pathway into the classroom,” said Dr. Catherine Wehlburg, ASU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “I look forward to seeing how this continues to grow and benefit our students, the students they work with, their families and the future of all that we do.” 

Joshua Laney, Director of the Alabama Department of Apprenticeship, recognized the hard work and perseverance of his staff and the partners in the program for their continued efforts in getting the program up and running. He thanked CAPNA for being willing to be a part of the program as an employer for students. 

“None of this happens if we don’t have an employer willing to try something different. CAPNA has stepped up and is serving as that role model here in North Alabama.” 

— Joshua Laney, Director of the Alabama Department of Apprenticeship

Kim Dodd, director of Community Action Partnership of North Alabama said they are thrilled to be the first employer partner for the apprenticeship program. 

“We serve children from birth to 5 years old in 15 counties in North Alabama, so we couldn’t be more excited to have one more thing that helps us with this workforce shortage,” she said.  

“I’m most excited about the strengthening of the early childhood field,” said Dr. Marcie Robinson, chair of the Wallace State Child Development program. “We know we need workforce. We need quality and I know CAPNA classrooms already have that quality in place. I’m happy to be a part of that process as we prepare apprentices for additional work in the classrooms.” 

For additional information regarding the apprenticeship, contact Christina Holmes at 256.352.8120 or or visit 

For more information about the Wallace State Early Childhood Education program, contact Dr. Marcie Robinson at 256.352.8383 or or visit 

Priority registration for summer and fall semesters will begin April 3, with registration for all students on April 6. Summer 2023 classes begin May 24. Fall 2023 classes begin Aug. 18. For more information, visit, call 256.352.8000 or come by Lion Central in the lobby of the James C. Bailey Center Monday-Wednesday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or Friday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

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