Palomar MAAC
Applications are open through May 31 for a free program in North County for those interested in early-education careers. Photo credit:

Palomar College has partnered with two nonprofits to develop a two-year early education apprenticeship program, the first of its kind in San Diego County.

MAAC, with locations throughout the region, has partnered with Palomar, in San Marcos, and Early Care and Education Pathways to Success for the pilot of the “Next Level: Early Care & Education” apprenticeship.

Students will receive free college coursework in child development, paid on-the-job training at MAAC’s Early Learning Centers and additional support such as tutoring, technology and job training for teaching children from birth to age 5.

At the end of the program, the goal is for the 25 participants to have the qualifications to apply for an Associate Teacher Permit and be prepared for full-time employment working with children in local communities.

Those who are interested may attend an information session at 4 p.m Monday at the MAAC North Campus, 956 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista, or register for a 5 p.m. Wednesday Zoom session to learn more.

Applications will be accepted through May 31. Selections will take place in June, with the program set to begin in late summer.

Arnulfo Manriquez, president and CEO of MAAC, said high costs and low availability of childcare is causing “a crisis in the region that impacts working families.” The new program gives officials the opportunity not only to bolster San Diego’s early childhood education system, he said, but also to create training opportunities for those in need, including clients that MAAC serves.

“Through this partnership with Palomar College, we will increase the early care and education workforce, ensure children get quality education, and set up the graduates of this program for economic mobility,” he said.

The educational component of the apprenticeship will be delivered by Palomar College through a weekly course at the MAAC North Campus along with ongoing training.

The Pathways to Success organization, a project affiliated with the nonprofit Tides Center, will serve as the apprenticeship sponsor and intermediary, providing ongoing technical assistance and support to MAAC and Palomar College.

Those who complete the program also will receive guidance from MAAC to apply for their credentials.

“We are thrilled to partner with MAAC on this initiative to provide access to the coursework and training needed to enter the essential field of early childcare,” said Palomar’s Superintendent/President Dr. Star Rivera-Lacey. “This partnership removes financial barriers and enables those who may not otherwise have an opportunity to pursue a career in childcare services.”