New, Innovative Early Childhood Educator Registered Apprenticeship for Family Child Care Providers

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Education and Support Fund, SEIU 1199New England, the Rhode Island Department of Health and Human Services (DHS), and Building Futures launched a new, innovative early childhood educator registered apprenticeship program. The new apprenticeship program creates an accessible pathway to industry-recognized credentials for Family Child Care Providers while building the skills mastery in early childhood education vital to offering high-quality care to the children they serve.   

Family Child Care Providers are licensed, qualified child care providers and early educators that take children into their own homes and create a loving educational environment. Family Child Care Providers offer culturally and linguistically resonant care for Rhode Island families, a proven benefit in early childhood development. For this and many reasons, parents frequently choose Family Child Care Providers over a center-based environment.

However, early family child care providers face significant barriers in meeting in gaining the nationally recognized Childhood Development Associate certification, which help increase providers’ earnings and Bright Star rates.

“Our Family Child Care Provider members are predominantly women of color, first generation college students, immigrants, and oftentimes mothers themselves. Classes are often inaccessible for providers who work extended hours to meet parents’ needs, and providers can face additional language and technology barriers. Registered Apprenticeship meets these challenges,” said Kursten Holabird, Executive Director of the SEIU Education and Support Fund.

“I have worked as a Family Child Care Provider for eleven years, and I haven’t been in a classroom in a very long time. This program provides the necessary supports to be successful at achieving my Child Development Associate Credential while continuing to run my child care business,” said Mendrid Torres, an SEIU 1199NE member.

Registered Apprenticeship takes place in the work environment, based on program standards that establish a path to train employees in a new occupation. Family Child Care Providers are sole proprietors that through SEIU collectively bargain with DHS on reimbursement rates, making this a unique application of the registered apprenticeship model and the first of its kind in the country.

The new registered apprenticeship represents a partnership between four parties, the Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS), which sets the quality standards of care, SEIU 1199 NE, which represents the bargaining unit of the Family Child Care Providers, the SEIU Education and Support Fund, which is sponsoring the registered apprenticeship and will play an integral role as an education provider, and Family Child Care Providers, an essential representative in the Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee that oversees the registered apprenticeship program, ensuring the program meets the needs of providers seeking to advance their education, professional development and earnings opportunities

“Far too often, career advancement requires post-secondary education that precludes employment; Registered Apprenticeship makes both accessible at once,” said Andrew Cortés, Executive Director of Building Futures, which helped develop this program as part of its Apprenticeship RI initiative. “This is an exciting example of how the apprenticeship model can be adapted to meet the specific needs of 1199NE family childcare providers seeking to hone their craft of providing quality education to our children as sole-proprietors and help achieve DHS and union goals, as all care deeply about the welfare of young children.” continued Cortés.

 “The child care industry is a critical component of our State’s infrastructure to rebuild Rhode Island’s economy,” said DHS Director Courtney E. Hawkins. “DHS is proud to partner with SEIU 1199/ESF to support one of many workforce development pathways our Office of Child Care is developing to support family child care providers advance the quality of their programs. The Department is committed to supporting programs in delivering high quality care to our youngest Rhode Island learners.”

Elements of the eighteen-month registered apprenticeship program include:

  • Structured On-The-Job Learning: under the supervision of coaches. Peer mentors provide additional support to ensure that the apprentices gain mastery of the competencies described in the apprenticeship standards. The competencies are aligned with the RI Department of Education Workforce Knowledge and Competencies for early childhood educators
  • Related Instruction: through the Community College of Rhode Island’s Early Childhood Education Program, providers will work through a higher education curriculum focused on the academic, social, and cognitive skills that develop in children from birth onwards. Providers will also complete health and safety training, business administration, anti-racism in early childhood education, business development, and digital literacy training through the SEIU Education and Support Fund.
  • Wage progression: as apprentices meet program milestones they will earn wage increases. Upon completion of the program participants will earn a wage consistent with the collective bargaining agreement between the union, SEIU 1199NE, and Rhode Island Department of Health Services (RI DHS).
  • Industry recognized credentials: upon completion, apprentices will acquire the national credential, Child Development Associate, the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education. Coursework needed to attain this credential will be completed at CCRI.

The first cohort of apprentices will begin immediately with 20 licensed Family Child Care Providers.


This innovative early childhood educator apprenticeship program is now formally registered with the State Apprenticeship Agency, the RI Department of Labor and Training (DLT) and was developed through its intermediary, Building Futures – the home of the Apprenticeship RI initiative.

Building Futures develops Registered Apprenticeship programs in partnership with DLT across all of Rhode Island’s high growth occupations and sectors and is funded by US DOL/ETA American Apprenticeship Initiative.

The SEIU Education and Support Fund (ESF) is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization founded for the purpose of developing and managing worker-centered education, training and professional development programs.

This work was supported by the Health Care Advancement Program (H-CAP) a leading national labor/management organization working to break down structural barriers to advancement and raise standards for Black and brown workers and women within the healthcare industry.

For more information contact: Kursten Holabird,