Montana Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program


  • Apprenticeships


Established in 2004, the Montana Early Childhood 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 (MECAP) provides on-the-job training, mentorship, and college coursework to support early childhood education providers. After completing the program, apprentices receive a Child Care Development Specialist Certificate and reach Level 4 of Montana’s Practitioner Registry. MECAP is a Registered Apprenticeship Program, an on-the-job, paid training model that is validated through the U.S. Department of Labor or a state agency. MECAP started with temporary funds from Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). After the temporary funds were depleted, funding came from the federal Child Care Development Fund, administered by DPHHS. MECAP is a cross-organization partnership coordinated and organized by multiple state agencies, including Montana’s Department of Labor and Industry (DLI), the Early Childhood Services Bureau, and Montana State University’s Early Childhood Program.


Child Trends. (2019). Spotlight on the Montana Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program.

Montana Early Childhood Project. (n.d.). Montana Early Childhood Apprenticeship Program Childcare Development Specialist.

Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. (2020). Apprenticeship Programs, by State/Territory, 2020.

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 Montana

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

Visit the Montana Profile Here
  • The state population is 1,122,867
  • Number of children age 0-4: 58,251
  • The rural percentage is 46.6%