Career Navigation: Adding Value to the Early Childhood Profession

by Kelly Bowes, Director of Professional Practice

Kelly Bowes

As 2019 wraps up, the Denver Career Pathways team has been reflecting on our fall cohort activities, successes and learnings within our Workforce Strategies program area. As we get ready to launch Winter 2020 activities, it’s important to use this information to guide tweaks, enhancements and new strategies. We are grateful for our iterative process and learning partnership with Mathematica and Early Milestones Colorado that allows us to thoughtfully reflect on and incorporate our ideas.

One thing we’ve learned about through our work on this program is the value of career navigation support. Our career navigation team has played a key role in recruiting and onboarding participants into our program. The onboarding interview serves as an important step to learn more about our participants’ motivations, personal strengths and circumstances they may be experiencing that could impact their participation and success in the program, as well as retention in the field.

It is no surprise that entering and growing within the field of early childhood education in Colorado is complex. From qualifications embedded in child care licensing, teacher credentials and the Professional Development Information System (PDIS), to scholarships, competencies and more, the profession needs the role of a career navigator more than ever! Their subject matter expertise, including strong knowledge and relationships with local community education and resource partners, allows our program participants to feel supported along their journey.

The career navigators’ knowledge of the system also unlocked pivotal information about the “nearly qualified” candidates in our community and the customized career supports they might need to reach an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) qualification. Eight applicants to our program were categorized as advanced!

As we get ready for an exciting legislative session concerning early childhood workforce opportunities, telling this story will be important. We have already learned that a technological enhancement for identifying nearly qualified aspiring teachers is currently cost prohibitive. Exploring and valuing the impactful, relationship-based alternative is needed.


If you have questions about our early childhood workforce strategies, contact Kelly at kellyb@denverearlychildhood.org.

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