BRIDGEPORT – A new state-funded program aimed at rebuilding Connecticut’s Early Learning sector and helping with the general economy was announced today at Alliance for Community Empowerment. Federal, state and local officials, including Commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood, Beth Bye, Senator Marilyn Moore, and Councilman Ernie Newton, were in attendance for the launch of the Early Childhood Education Workforce Initiative. The ECE Workforce program, funded through the Office of Early Childhood State of CT, offers comprehensive training and hands on classroom experience to prospective Early Childhood Educators.
While slowly rebuilding from the effects of the Covid-19 epidemic and the abrupt closing of early childhood centers in 2020, staffing shortages remain an issue. “Recently it looked like empty classrooms, long waitlists, families who needed to get back to work who couldn’t get back to work because they had to take care of the kids; it was a dark day for the economy,” said Dr. Monette Ferguson, Executive Director of Alliance For Community Empowerment. “This program is a ray of hope for rebuilding the entire economy.”
ECE Workforce is a paid 12-week training program aimed at re-opening enrollment in Early Learning programs so parents can return to the workforce without the obstacle of childcare, while also providing a new career path to those interested in Early Learning Education. Alliance also offers supportive services in an effort to eliminate barriers to full participation in the program including providing transportation and comprehensive services.
“In the past, in Early Childhood, we haven’t had a way for people to get in where they received support in the workplace, where you are getting paid while you’re getting trained,” expressed Commissioner Bye. “We have a tremendous workforce shortage in Early Childhood Education… What we learn from [Alliance], we’re going to use to create a system for the State of Connecticut.”
The program has seen significant interest, with Alliance receiving 5 times the number of applicants originally predicted, more than any other organization in the program. Those accepted will begin at entry level and will have an opportunity to grow, learn and potentially be offered employment with Alliance or other early learning providers. The candidates who successfully complete the program will earn appropriate early childhood education credentials and certifications. As Dr. Ferguson addressed the new trainees in the audience, “You’re going to be paving the way for the perfect program to create a new workforce that not just touches families, but also educates and builds children. And that’s exactly what Alliance has done for sixty years.”