Child Care Development Specialist Apprenticeship Program


  • Apprenticeships


In July 2020, Colorado passed HB 20-1053 to improve career and educational pathways for early childhood educators, including an apprenticeship Apprenticeships: An arrangement between a developing educator and an employer (e.g., a child care program) that allows the educator to participate in on-the-job professional learning and related coursework. Apprenticeship programs are often sponsored by government agencies and/or non-profit organizations. program, the Child Care Development Specialist Federally Registered Apprenticeship Program, funded by approximately $5 million in federal stimulus money through September 2024 and administered through Red Rocks Community College. It is expected to address the workforce shortage in early childhood programs. Apprentices can earn an associate or bachelor’s degree and train to qualify as a child care center director. The program requires a 2-year commitment, and applicants must be at least 16 years old and either currently employed or willing to work full time in an early childhood program. The program requires 306 education hours and 4,000 hours of on-the-job learning with a mentor teacher. This program is the only federally registered apprenticeship for early childhood education in Colorado.


Red Rocks Community College. (n.d.). Child Care Development Specialist Apprenticeship Program.

Red Rocks Community College. (2018). Child Care Development Specialist.

Brundin, J. (2021). Apprenticeships Aren’t Just For The Trades. It’s Also A Way To Bolster Colorado’s Early Childhood Workforce. Colorado Public Radio.

Ellison, G. (2022). Colorado promotes apprenticeships for early childhood educators. Broomfield Leader.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

The early education workforce is the foundation upon which all daily work and any expansion and quality improvement efforts rest. Research suggests that states and cities should invest in the workforce across all early education setting types, focusing on enhancing educators’ professional learning, compensation, and workplace conditions.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:

  • Early educators play a critical role in supporting the well-being of young children and families across setting types.
  • Yet their pay, benefits, and other professional supports are often inadequate in light of the job demands and their cost of living.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Colorado

Context matters. Visit the Colorado profile page to learn more about its demographics, political landscape, early education programs, early education workforce, and funding sources and streams.

Visit the Colorado Profile Here
  • The state population is 5,839,926
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 65%
  • The rural percentage is 14.0&