Credential As You Go Organization Case Study

Infant/Toddler Childhood Certificate

Red Rocks Community College

Credential Title

Infant/Toddler Childhood Certificate

Credential Level


Academic Program

Early Childhood Education

Stage of Development

In development

Credit/Non-credit # of credits (if credit bearing)

18 credits

Length of Credential

6 months

Types of Partnerships


Incremental Credentialing Framework Approaches

  • Learn As You Go
  • Add On As You Go
  • Stack As You Go
  • Partner As You Go

Top Competencies/Learning Outcomes

  • Knowledge of:
    • Child growth, development, and learning
    • Child observation and assessment
    • Family and community partnerships
    • Social-Emotional health and development promotion
    • Health, safety, and nutrition
    • Professional practice
    • Teaching practice

Credential Components

  • 18 credit hours:
    • ECE 1011 Intro to Early Childhood Education
    • ECE 1031 Guidance Strategies for Young Children
    • ECE 1111 Infant/Toddler Theory/Practice
    • ECE 1125 Intro to Infant\Toddler Lab Techniques
    • ECE 2381 ECE Child Growth & Development
    • ECE Course Any 3 credit ECE Course

Why the Credential was Developed

  • The Child Care Development Specialist Apprenticeship has been in existence since 2000. With the state adoption of competencies for Early Childhood educators and professionals in Colorado, the creation of a state-level Department of Early Childhood, and the rollout of the universal prekindergarten programming, the landscape is changing in Colorado. The apprenticeship program streamlines the ability of participants new to the EC workforce to learn and earn at the same time while acquiring the knowledge and skills to work as an early childhood teacher or early childhood program director.
  • The degreed apprenticeship program has been developed as a means to offer college credit for ECE certificates leading to the AAS degree in ECE with RRCC based upon demonstrated competency in the workplace for the apprentices so they can earn college credit attached to their apprenticeship learning experience through competency-based education (CBE). Holding college transcripts connected to this learning experience offers transportable learning that is recognized both inside and outside of Colorado beyond the current non-credit credentials offered through the Colorado Dept. of Early Childhood.
  • The benefit of this program is significantly reducing the time and cost of earning a college degree for a workforce that does not currently experience equity in pay for their services. This program offers equity of access to higher education for underserved populations as well as this program supports individuals on finding the right path for themselves within the field of early childhood education.

How the Credential was Developed

  • The original proposal to develop a degreed apprenticeship program came out of a grant proposal to support educational innovations.
  • ECE faculty worked with Child Care Innovations Department staff to crosswalk the Colorado Competencies for EC Educators and Professionals with current ECE course learning outcomes.
  • From this crosswalk of competencies to outcomes we have identified non-credit trainings and workshops to meet the knowledge acquisitions requirements and the demonstrated skills aligned with the workforce competencies that can be offered as artifacts for evaluation to ECE faculty as part of the PLA process for faculty-evaluated workplace credit required by the Colorado Community College System.
  • These artifacts are submitted by the apprentice in the form of an ePortfolio that is reviewed, evaluated with a portfolio rubric, and approved for the PLA credit by the college.
  • College transcripts include this PLA credit for awarded certificates and degrees can be submitted to the state professional development information system as evidence of formal education and applied towards non-credit credentials recognized by the CDEC.
  • Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, participants receive a national apprenticeship credential from the U.S Dept. of Labor as this apprenticeship program is registered with the USDOL.

The Targeted Learners

  • We are targeting individuals that are looking to receive their Early Childhood Teacher qualifications or EC Director qualifications from the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) via the Child Care Development Specialist Apprenticeship program.
  • RRCC Staff are leading presentations with early childhood councils to ensure collaboration within communities and to connect with local early childhood programs.
  • The RRCC AAS-ECE program currently serves a diverse population of students, predominantly female and first-generation students.

Lessons Learned

  • From the apprenticeship program, Child Care Innovations has experienced challenges learning how to move through the USDOL process with the apprenticeship.
  • Recently Child Care Innovations moved the apprenticeship from a time-based apprenticeship to a competency-based apprenticeship. This has allowed us to make the move towards the Degreed Apprenticeship. The biggest challenges have been understanding how to meet the requirements of the college and not lose the uniqueness of the apprenticeship program.
  • From the RRCC ECE program perspectives, the time is needed to work on this project with crosswalk alignments and creating a process for evaluating demonstrated knowledge and skills has been substantial. Hindsight being 20/20, it would have been beneficial to have a small workgroup sharing the workload, but with tight funding and sticky requirements for work overload assignments in our faculty compensation and load process, this has limited the amount of time during the work week available to dedicate to this project.
  • A second primary area of concern has been navigating all the associated areas of the college impacted by this work including the creation of a process with the Assessment center for evaluating PLA credit requests, Students Records process to applying PLA credit to official transcripts, and Academic Affairs processes to ensure rigor of evaluation to meet our Higher Learning Commission standards for institutional accreditation. We have been using the C-BEN guidelines and resources as we navigate these issues.
  • Administration has been helpful in supporting us, and ensuring students meet the high standards of the college, while at the same time demonstrating a willingness to make changes in instructional guidelines to address this unique and high-impact program. The hope is that this degreed apprenticeship can be scaled towards other apprenticeship models for offering college credit in other discipline areas, particularly in career/technical education fields.

Improving Education and Employment Outcomes

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