July 19, 2024 3:24 pm

The premier news source for Snohomish County

County and education leaders celebrate the expansion of new Youth Child Care Workforce Initiative

EVERETT—Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers joined local education leaders at Mukilteo School District’s Pathfinder Kindergarten Center on Wednesday, June 5, to announce that the successful new Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways program will be expanding to four additional school district this fall.

youth Early Childhood Education
Rosie Marie Chann, one of the graduating students the Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways leading a class exercise. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

The program is expanding to Arlington, Granite Falls, Monroe, and Sultan, with the focus being on more rural areas of North and East Snohomish County where child care access is most severely limited.

“High-quality, accessible child care is vital for the health and success of our communities and economy. But right now, Snohomish County – like so many places across the country – is facing a critical lack of child care facilities and providers. That’s why we’re using these generational investments from the federal government to increase child care facilities and help connect communities – like young people – with careers in early childhood education,” said Executive Somers.

The announcement comes at the very same day the first cohort of the new Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways program at Sno-Isle TECH celebrated their graduation. The graduates are Rosie Marie Chann, Natalia Isabel Gonzalez, Ashlynn Danica McLaughlin, Ngoc T.B. Pham, and Isaiah Amarr Williams.

youth Early Childhood Education
The on-site coordinator Viveca Smith, with (L-R) Ashlynn Danica McLaughlin, Natalia Isabel Gonzalez, Ngoc T.B. Pham, Isaiah Amarr Williams, and Rosie Marie Chann, the first graduating class of the Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

These five students will take the Washington State Para Educator Exam this month and work at the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, or other local early education centers throughout this summer. Many of the high school seniors plan on continuing their education in early childhood education this fall at various colleges.

“Congratulations to the first graduates of the new Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways program!” said Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02). “Thanks in part to federal funding, students from Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center were able to get valuable classroom experience at Pathfinder Kindergarten. Snohomish County lost more than 1,000 child care providers during the pandemic, and access to high-quality, affordable child care remains a significant challenge across the country and the state. This initiative will help rebuild the child care workforce, increase access to jobs and improve educational outcomes for the next generation.”

Ngoc, one of the graduating students and Junior from Kamiak High School, told the Lynnwood Times she chose early education because she wanted to be a school guidance counselor in the future and the program was a great way to get her start.

Joining Executive Somers in this exciting announcement included Mukilteo School District Superintendent Dr. Alison Brynelson, Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center Director Wes Allen, and Pathfinder Kindergarten Center Principal Julie Harris.

youth Early Childhood Education
(L-R) Ngoc T.B. Pham, Viveca Smith, Rosie Marie Chann, Natalia Isabel Gonzalez, Ashlynn Danica McLaughlin, Julie Harris, Principal of Pathfinder, Alison Brynelson, Superintendent of Mukilteo School District, Wes Allen, Director of Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center, Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive, and Isaiah Amarr Williams at the celebration of the first graduates of the Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways on June 5, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

“Because of the partnership with the County to fund this new program, we are providing not just a winning opportunity, but a win-win-win experience. It is a win for the Sno-Isle TECH students to receive district-supported on-the-job training; it is a win for the kindergarten students to have additional adults to engage with and learn from; and it’s a win for the district and community to benefit from students who enter the workforce with the training and experience, ready to further their careers in education,” said Dr. Alison Brynelson, Superintendent, Mukilteo School District.

Pathway Principal Julie Harris informed the Lynnwood Times that the Pathways program all stemmed from Wes Allen’s idea. Allen shared that Principal Harris and he were the perfect partner to get it off the ground.

“Sno-Isle TECH is so excited to partner with Snohomish County to create a program that addresses the shortage of early childhood educators in our county,” said Wes Allen, Director, Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center. “Through this partnership, we look to prepare our graduating students to address the deficit while getting them to college with the high school credits and industry recognized credentials that will positively impact their future.”

youth Early Childhood Education
Ashlynn Danica McLaughlin, one of the graduating students the Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways leading a class exercise. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

The Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways program prepares high school students for careers in Early Childhood Education and Para Educator roles by providing them with hands-on, in-classroom experience working with pre-k and kindergarten students to prepare them for roles as early childhood education providers.

Through the program, students complete 120 classroom hours in courses—a requirement of Everett Community College’s Early Childhood Education Initial Certification curriculum—to support dual enrollment and ensure that students are meeting the requirements for the Washington State Early Childhood Education Initial Certificate.

Participants in the program rotate “pods” of Pathway children every three weeks to reach every student.

youth Early Childhood Education
Inside Mukilteo School District’s Pathfinder Kindergarten Center that was built in 2017. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

High School Students in the first cohort received these in-classroom experience hours at Pathfinder Kindergarten Center, which belongs to the Mukilteo School District.

The program is funded by $575,000 of the County’s federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation and is operated in partnership with Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center.

Jessica Reed, teacher at Pathfinder Kindergarten informed the Lynnwood Times the Pathways program has been both beneficial for the high school students as well as the kindergarten students.

youth Early Childhood Education
Inside Mukilteo School District’s Pathfinder Kindergarten Center that was built in 2017. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

“They’ve been able to work with kids in special education and kids typically still developing so they’ve been able to learn the difference in ways to support each kid because they all have different needs,” said Reed. “I benefit, and the kids benefit, because we have smaller groups so it’s more individualized with more attention to each kid.”

A classroom at Pathfinder consists of 14 children with one high schooler at a time. This year Pathway has approximately 500 students enrolled.

Seeing as Snohomish County lost approximately 25% of its child care workforce during the pandemic, according to Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) data, the pathway program aims to address this need. In Washington State 84 out of 100 kids can now get the early childcare that they need. However, in Snohomish County, that number is only 62 out of 100, making it a severe childcare desert and challenge.

youth Early Childhood Education
The exterior of Mukilteo School District’s Pathfinder Kindergarten Center that was built in 2017. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

Executive Somers and his team at the Office of Recovery and Resilience are closing this gap by investing $7.6 million in July last year to fund nearly 360 new child care slots. County investments in early childcare include Rise Up Academy along with Volunteers of America’s Lynnwood Neighborhood Center (awarded $2 million), Housing Hope’s Tomorrow’s Hope Child Development Center, Camp Fire Snohomish County’s Camp Killoqua Child Care Center (awarded $1 million), Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County’s Edmonds Club Child Care (awarded $1 million), and Latino Educational Training Institute’s Incubators for Families’ Success (awarded $656,193).

Pathfinder Kindergarten Center is located at 11401 Beverly Park Road Building B in Everett, Washington. It has been operational since 2017.

youth Early Childhood Education
Ngoc T.B. Pham, Natalia Isabel Gonzalez and Isaiah Amarr Williams, graduating students the Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways leading a coloring exercise. The students are coloring an image with the words, “Follow your dreams.” Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

Students interested in learning more about the Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways program – and potentially enrolling – should learn more and apply on this website.

Applications for the fall school year are open and will be accepted through June 10, 2024. Interested applicants can also call 425-348-2220 or email scinfo@mukilteo.wednet.edu for more information.


EDITOR’S NOTE: [8:41 a.m., 6/6/2024] Article updated with a quote by Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02).

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