West Virginia’s Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist (ACDS)


  • Apprenticeships

West Virginia

Established in 1989, the West Virginia Registered 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. for Child Development Specialist (ACDS) program holds the distinction of being the longest-running apprenticeship program in early childhood education nationwide. A Registered Apprenticeship Program, ACDS is a partnership among the United States Department of Labor, River Valley Child Development Services, and early childhood programs throughout the state. ACDS involves 300 hours of instructional training and requires apprentices to complete between 3,200 and 4,000 hours of on-the-job training. It covers four semesters and follows a curriculum specifically designed for ACDS, with each semester focusing on a specific age group (infant, toddler, preschool, and school-age). The ACDS Curriculum is taught by certified instructors who meet program-specific criteria, including holding at least a bachelor’s degree in early childhood or a related field and possessing direct experience in working with young children. Instructors must renew their teaching credentials for ACDS every two years. Once they have completed the program, participants can apply coursework from the ACDS program toward college credits at most West Virginia community colleges. Employers are obligated to sign an agreement stipulating the raise they will provide to the employees upon completion of the program, although the amount may vary between programs. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources/BCF/Early Care and Education Division is the major source of funding for the program, which is administered by West Virginia Early Childhood Training Connections and Resources, a program of River Valley Child Development Services.


West Virginia Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist. (n.d.).

National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning. (n.d.). Early Childhood Education Apprenticeships.

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 West Virginia

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

Visit the West Virginia Profile Here
  • The state population is 1,775,156
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 60%
  • The rural percentage is 55.4%