YWCA in Kalamazoo creates ‘career pathway’ to staff 24-hour childcare center

By Lindsay Moore | lmoore@mlive.com


KALAMAZOO, MI — The YWCA is partnering with Kalamazoo Literacy Council and Southwest Child Care Resource to create a pathway into early childhood education employment that will also meet the needs of a new childcare center planned for the community.

Kalamazoo County is facing “a critical shortage of childcare providers,” said April Goodwin, executive director of Southwest Child Care Resources, in a news release.

This program partnership will create an employment pipeline in Kalamazoo County. Apprentices will train as early learning professionals at YWCA’s new Edison Children’s Center, on the lower level of The Creamery apartment building at the intersection of Portage and Lake streets in Kalamazoo’s Edison neighborhood.

Extending beyond the childcare center, the pipeline will also offer apprentices the opportunity to attend Kellogg Community College and earn an associate degree in early childhood education, Goodwin said.

The program is looking to recruit 15 apprentices who will earn the Childcare Development Associate accreditation over the course of the eight-month program, starting in April. The apprenticeship program will be full-time and paid, according to the release.

The apprentices will then become early learning professionals at the Edison center.

In Kalamazoo’s Edison, Northside and Eastside neighborhoods, 90% of children are not enrolled in early learning programs, according to the YWCA.

The Edison Children’s Center will fill that gap starting September 2021.

Related: YWCA will offer 24/7 childcare inside Edison neighborhood development

Early learning programs will be offered for infants and toddlers in five classrooms. Each classroom will have two teachers tending to six children.

The infant and toddler rooms will have a mix of ages to create a home-like environment that encourages a natural “leaders and learners” play structure, Early Learning Program Manager Nichole Blum said.

The children’s center will offer 24-hour childcare services to allow families with adults working first, second and third shifts to have accessible childcare.

Serving both the families of the Edison neighborhoods and those seeking jobs in childhood education directly relates to the YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, Kalamazoo YWCA CEO Grace Lubwama said.

“YWCA Kalamazoo recognizes our responsibility to create equitable access not only to supportive services but also to pathways for employment,” Lubwama said. “This career pathway is an example of work at the intersection of education and equity.”


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