“Childcare is an essential resource for families and it’s important that we are hiring and equipping people with this training,” says Rose Fetzer, KLC Adult Learning Services Navigator.
While work is being done on the state level to address these problems, local communities are also taking action. It’s one of the reasons the Edison Early Childhood Education Career Pathway was started. It’s a partnership between the Kalamazoo Literacy Council, Southwest Childcare Resources, and YWCA Kalamazoo to help people pursue a career in early childhood education. A major part of the program is a full-time, paid eight-month apprenticeship that will result in a childcare development associate credential.
“Jay Parsons is one of the most committed and compassionate educators I have ever met. His service as a volunteer tutor and instructor positively impacts the lives of the learners who are fortunate to work with him. He also inspires others to volunteer and teach adults by his example and his remarkable lifelong dedication to education,” Evans said.
A love for family, a quest for a better life and a stroke of luck brought Elvis Vetene to West Michigan. Vetene won the visa lottery, also called the Diversity Visa Program. He left the Democratic Republic of the Congo for Kalamazoo to give his family a better life. Vetene spoke several African languages and French. But because of COVID-19 his English level was not improving.
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.