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MAAC and Palomar College team up to train the next generation of teachers

San Diego’s child care industry continues to struggle after being hit hard during COVID-19.

Centers are still closing, and those that remain open are having a hard time finding staff.

To help with that shortage, the nonprofit MAAC and Palomar College have teamed up on a new program that will train more child care providers.


The apprenticeship program will be open to 25 participants for the pilot class and will last two years.

MAAC, which provides child development and early education programs in San Diego, has 40 locations spread throughout the county that provide child care, so they’re feeling the staffing shortages firsthand, MAAC CEO Arnulfo Manriquez said.

“We are in a teacher shortage, not just our organization but most preschools throughout the county, actually the state of California,” Manriquez said. “So it is important for us to begin to find the next generation of teachers that are going to come into our programs that can grow in the career pathways of education."

Participants will be able to get hands-on experience and education, all while getting paid. Onsite child care is also available during class times.

“While they’re participating in the program, while they're going through education, while they are going through all the training, they are paid employees, and again our minimum wage is $18.45,” Manriquez said.


Classes and training will all be held at MAAC in Vista, so participants won’t need to step foot onto a college campus.

Star Rivera Lacey, the superintendent and president of Palomar College, said that makes it easier for people to access.

“We think that's really important because sometimes it can be really intimidating, particularly if you're from a first generation background and you don't have that college experience,” she said. “Going onto a college campus, again, can be intimidating.”

Participants from any background and language are encouraged to apply. The only requirement is having a high school diploma.

“MAAC has been very forward thinking in making sure to remove all the barriers that any students may potentially have,” Riviera Lacey said. “So the fact that it's an internship, it's being paid for, and even the tuition is covered, I would love to see more organizations take this approach because I think that's how we're really going to move the needle and see a change.”

At the end of the two years, participants can apply for an Associate Teacher Permit and get child care jobs. Or they can enroll in more schooling to get higher-level teaching jobs.

The deadline to apply is May 31 and spaces are expected to fill up.

The child care industry has long been in crisis, and COVID-19 only made things worse. Now affordable, quality care is even more challenging to find, and staff are not paid enough to stay in the field. This series spotlights people each struggling with their own childcare issues, and the providers struggling to get by.