Elkhart Area Career Center launches first State Earn and Learn in Early Childhood Education

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 21, 2020) – The Elkhart Area Career Center’s (EACC) Early Childhood Education Program was officially recognized as a certified Indiana State Earn and Learn (SEAL) by officials from the Indiana Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship (OWBLA) during a September 16 ceremony at Growing Kids Learning Center in Elkhart.

Students enrolled in the EACC Early Childhood SEAL program gain valuable work experience while earning 30 college credits and a Technical Certificate in Early Childhood Education from Ivy Tech Community College. In addition, students earn five industry-recognized credentials, including the Child Development Associate (CDA) Certificate.

“The EACC has done an outstanding job in developing strong partnerships with both post- secondary education providers and employers,” said Matt Presley, OWBLA Regional Director. “The Early Childhood Education SEAL program delivers not only a valuable education for students, but also the opportunity to work and gain first-hand experience in the field. Because of the critical need to train and develop educators, this comprehensive program will certainly serve as a best-practice model for other schools to emulate across our state.”

Growing Kids Learning Center is the premier employer partner with EACC for this SEAL program, but students also gain experience by working at Apple Tree Day Care and in other schools across their district.

Over the last five years, 100 percent of students enrolled in the Early Childhood Education program have earned their CDA.

“I believe strongly that as educators we can and should prepare students for real-world situations,” said Barb Gingerich, Early Childhood Education instructor at the EACC. “Knowledge of early childhood is learned through hands-on experience. The students gain expertise, the employer gains experienced staff members. It’s a win-win for all involved.”

While this is the first certified SEAL program for EACC, Career Center Director Brandon Eakins (pictured right) and his staff continue to build and develop programs across multiple career pathways with support from the OWBLA that engage employers and provide students with quality work-based learning experiences.

“The EACC has been a fixture in the community since the early 1970s and has continued to grow with the ever-changing needs” said Director Eakins. “Past EACC leadership laid the foundation for increasing rigor, offering industry certifications, and promoting early college opportunities for students. All of this work and great partnerships, like with Growing Kids Learning Center and Ivy Tech Community College, have culminated in this outstanding SEAL program in Elkhart County. As our region moves towards creating valuable work-based learning experiences for our high schoolers, the EACC is excited to be part of the solution. “

SEALs are structured, scalable programs that are designed to deliver the skills and certifications that employers value. These programs are geared toward both adult and youth populations, and they satisfy Indiana’s new graduation pathway requirements.

DWD projects Indiana employers will need to fill more than 1 million additional jobs in the next 10 years, half of which will not require a four-year college degree, but some type of certification or credential beyond a high school diploma.

For more information about the EEAC Early Education SEAL or SEALs in general, visit the OWBLA website at www.INwbl.com or email the DWD Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship at wbl@dwd.in.gov .

About the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. DWD serves the worker and the employer to ensure workplace success. DWD is committed to innovating and invigorating Indiana’s economic future by providing WorkOne Career Centers, Unemployment Insurance, Labor Market Information, Regional Workforce Strategies and Professional Training. Through these services, DWD is able to develop a premier workforce that enables Indiana employers to flourish and entices businesses from outside our state to relocate to Indiana.