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Increased Early Childhood Educator Enrollment Leads to Program Innovation

CMU Tech is now offering additional Spanish language support for early childhood education students

Finding high-quality and affordable childcare in the Grand Valley is a daunting undertaking for working parents and according to the Mesa County Partnership for Children and Families’ most recent health needs assessment, existing licensed childcare facilities only have the capacity to service 14% of children 0 to 5 years of age in Mesa County.

Many employers across the country, like Patagonia, and locally, like Community Hospital, are working hard to provide on-site childcare options for their employees, and stand-alone providers are managing extensive waitlists, but one of the greatest limiting factors for most childcare sites is the shortage of qualified employees. As new facilities are brought online, competitive pay will incentivize qualified early childhood educators to move to these new facilities that can offer higher wages, and this in turn will likely motivate more people to enter the workforce for these in-demand jobs.

The Early Childhood Education Program at CMU Tech is one of only three pilot programs in the state that offers an apprenticeship pathway to becoming a credentialed early childhood educator in addition to traditional classroom-based stackable credentials, and through their partnerships with programs such as the Maslow Academy in Montrose, Colorado and Centro De La Familia, a Head Start program that has sites across Colorado, the program receives invaluable information about what employers are looking for and the supports that they see apprentices and new employees are in need of.

CMU Tech Early Education Apprenticeship Specialist Mindy Gutierrez explained, “By working with these employers, we have identified the need to support the early childhood education Spanish-speaking workforce in our community and are getting these individuals placed in higher paying jobs through our apprenticeship program. Another added benefit is that through a number of scholarships, grants, and the newly formed CMU Promise, students can earn these credentials for free.”

CMU Tech has seen a marked increase in their early childhood education program enrollment and recently added a second mod offering of their EDEC 103 course this fall to meet the demand. The program’s staff has also developed additional Spanish language support for learners and will have the assignments translated from English to Spanish in EDEC 103. Technical Instructor of Early Childhood Education Vail Shoultz-McCole will be teaching EDEC 103, and Gutierrez will provide assignment translations and in-class support for English language learner students.

The early childhood education program has seen great success with Spanish-speaking students after implementing a bilingual EDEC 101 class, and this new offering will allow students who have recently completed EDEC 101 to seamlessly move into EDEC 103 while they continue to improve their reading, writing, speaking and listening in English while also pursuing mastery as early childhood educators. Second module classes begin on October 16, 2023, but students can register up until the last day to add or drop a second mod course on October 23, 2023.

If you love working with young children and want to take advantage of the financial and educational support that CMU Tech provides to enter this in-demand field, please reach out to Mindy Gutierrez via phone at 970.255.2726 or via email.


Written by Giff Walters