A new early childhood education program, offered at Maples Collegiate and West Kildonan Collegiate, will give students a running start on their child care career path.
Successful completion (a 65% grade or greater) of the Co-operative Vocational Education (CVE) program enables students to apply directly to Term 2 of the four-term Early Childhood Education program at Red River College.
"It is (a head start) and because there’s such a shortage of early childhood educators, this is something that is going to help Manitoba with its shortage," said Jackie Cunningham, an early childhood education teacher at Maples Collegiate.
"They’re (the students) definitely guaranteed a career when they come out of it."
Through the CVE program — available to Grade 11 and 12 students, as well as adults who have already graduated or left school — students can earn up to eight high school credits towards graduation.
The early childhood education program starts at Maples and West Kildonan on Feb. 4 and runs into June. Registration is now open. The program will also be offered in September, with registration starting March 3.
"They get nine weeks of practicum and 10 weeks in class, so it’s a pretty even split, lots of hands-on, and that’s the best way to learn when it comes to this," Cunningham said.
Cunningham would know. The 36-year-old has been in the child care field since graduating high school.
"I wish they had this (program) when I was in high school," she said. "I started working in daycares because of my family studies class in Grade 12 (at Oak Park High School). Right out of high school, I started taking Red River College classes and working (in child care) since I was 18."
According to the Manitoba Child Care Association, an experienced early childhood educator working as a director at a large facility (151 to 200 spaces) can earn between $34.97 and $43.71 an hour.
In addition to being a potentially high-paying job, Cunningham said being an early childhood educator is an exciting career.
"This career is really good for somebody who doesn’t like the same thing over and over," she said. "It’s not an office job. It’s a caring, nurturing type of job with lots of growth potential.
"It’s diverse. People that graduate from this can work out of their home or at a centre. They can work with infants, preschoolers, school age, it’s definitely a diverse type of job."
A mother of two daughters, aged 12 and 14, Cunningham said early childhood educator is also a good career choice for those thinking of starting a family.
"Having that flexibility to work out of your home or possibly work in a daycare centre where you can bring your children with you, that’s always a really good selling point," Cunningham said. "I ran a licensed home daycare and then I went to nursery school and then did larger centres."
To register or for more information about the program, call Maples Collegiate at (204) 632-6641 or West Kildonan Collegiate at (204) 339-6959.