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Earn a WCCC Early Childhood Education Degree at Little or No Cost

Abundant scholarship, apprenticeship and job placement opportunities available as Colorado 2023 universal preschool implementation approaches

In response to the nationwide early childhood education (ECE) teacher crisis, state and federal funding is available to grow the credentialed preschool and childcare workforce. WCCC is one of three colleges in Colorado currently offering apprenticeships, which include stipends, mentorship and scholarships so students can earn their credentials at little or no cost as well as work placements that allow students to earn while they learn.

There are also scholarships available for current ECE professionals to level up their credentials.  

“Now is a great time to start or continue a college degree in early childhood education,” said Early Childhood Education Technical Instructor Vail Shoultz-McCole. “Education is a high-demand field with a varied career lattice and there are many scholarships available to support different levels of interest. Anyone from high school students to working or retired adults with a love for interacting with young children and families, we encourage you to start your education today.” 

In 2021, House Bill 1295 with the support of Governor Jared Polis created the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) to bring greater awareness to the field of early care and education. CDEC is creating a strategic plan to address the lack of childcare in Colorado and the resulting impacts on economic stability of communities across the state. 

"This agency will efficiently implement Colorado’s voter-approved universal free preschool program, giving kids a strong start and saving families money,” said Polis. “Colorado’s kids deserve every opportunity to thrive, and this investment will continue to ensure our state becomes an even better and more affordable place to live, work and have a family.”  

Shoultz-McCole said she was honored by her appointment to the 15 member Rules Advisory Council created to guide the CDEC executive director on how to serve the best interests of Colorado’s early childhood professionals, children and families.

One mission of the CDEC is to implement universal preschool in 2023. This will dramatically increase the demand for new childcare facilities and teachers of which there is already a statewide shortage. WCCC offers a variety programs and financial support to help those interested in this career as well as credit for qualifying prior work experience. 

CDEC Funding for Apprenticeships & Stipends  

CDEC awarded WCCC with a $438,000 Apprenticeship Grant for the 2022-2023 academic school to create partnerships with local providers that offer students paid apprenticeships, mentor-teacher support and scholarships to complete college courses. Students can apprentice with public and private early childhood care and education workforce partners.

High school students in concurrent enrollment programs (Technical Scholars or P-Tech) can also participate in this program. Field placement before and after school offer part-time apprenticeship opportunities and students can also earn their National Credential from the Council for Professional Recognition.  

Colorado Department of Education also awarded WCCC a variety of different scholarships. The EDEC 101 and EDEC 103 scholarships alone are up to a $1,182 savings for in-state students. The additional funding supports students seeking a Technical Certificate, Entry Level Teacher, Teacher and/or Director degree. 

T.E.A.C.H. Scholarships for Current ECE Employees and Specialists

Expanding the number of Colorado childcare facilities to serve young children means more demand for leadership positions. Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance (ECCLA) joined forces with the national Teacher Education and Compensation Helps Early Childhood® (T.E.A.C.H.) initiative of the Child Care Services Association to offer scholarships to Colorado employees working in early childhood education facilities or other organizations that serve the needs of young children. These scholarship support those who want to further their education in the early care education.  

There are several scholarship models for current directors, teachers, family childcare providers and other ECE facility employees who want to earn their early childhood credential, director qualifications, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in ECE. There are also “specialist models” available for coaches, substitutes, home visitors, assessors, consultants, child-focused non-profits and more. Most models require 20-30 hours of employment per week, but exceptions are made for college students who do not work in full-day programs and for substitutes. For complete details visit 

“Teachers fill a key role in our economy and community. They provide quality care and education while family members are working in the community,” Shoultz-McCole said. “Teachers impact the future by supporting children's love of learning, social interactions and healthy physical development, which provides kids a foundation to build a successful adult life as an active community member.” 

Participation in the apprenticeship programs can lead to long-term employment opportunities when the apprenticeships are complete. Job placement assistance is available for college students through WCCC.  

To learn more about the funding available and to apply visit WCCC Early Childhood Education Program.

If you are a business or organization that wants to partner with WCCC, please contact Vice President for Community College Affairs Brigitte Sundermann at 970.255.2700.


Written by Hannah Odneal