In 2021, the Louisiana Department of Education (DOE) created the Fast Forward initiative to offer students opportunities to earn an associate degree or gain meaningful work experience in a variety of fields, including early childhood education, through an apprenticeshipApprenticeships: 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. while in high school. In the early childhood field, the initiative is intended to expand the teacher workforce. Participants are trained to assure the health, safety, and well-being of young children in out-of-home care. The Fast Forward program has three pathways: Jump Start 2.0 Pathway, TOPS University Pathway, and Louisiana Transfer Degree Pathway. In 2021 the program announced grants of up to $50,000 to be awarded to a lead regional secondary school system and its higher education partner in each of the eight regions of the state. The DOE and the Board of Regents each contributed $200,000 for the total grant cost of $400,000. The initiative aims to assist with establishing statewide industry or sector partnerships among local educational agencies and institutions of higher education.
Louisiana Department of Education. (n.d.). Fast Forward
Louisiana Department of Education. (2023). Approved Fast Forward Pathways List.
Louisiana Department of Education. (n.d.). Fast Forward Pathways.
Louisiana Department of Education. (n.d.). Jumpstart 2.0 Associate of Applied Science: Care and Development of Young Children.
Louisiana Department of Education. (2021). Louisiana Department of Education Launches Bold Career and College Readiness Pilot Supported by BESE, Board of Regents.
Louisiana Board of Regents. (2021). Louisiana Previews New Career & College Readiness Pathways During Joint BESE, Regents Meeting.
Louisiana Department of Education. (2021). Louisiana Department of Education Awards $400,000 in Planning Grants to Improve Career & College Readiness.
Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:
Learn More about 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.