Online Learning Pioneer Tackles Child Care Workforce Gaps with Stackable Pathway in Early Childhood Education

Online Learning Pioneer Tackles Child Care Workforce Gaps with Stackable Pathway in Early Childhood Education

4 minute read

StraighterLine’s “starter pack” for careers in early childhood education helps aspiring educators gain new skills, earn academic credit toward a college degree 

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (MAY 22, 2023) -- StraighterLine, a creator of affordable, flexible and career-aligned postsecondary courses and credentials, today announced the launch of five new courses designed to create a more accessible pathway to a college degree for early childhood education professionals working to complete their state-required certification. 

“The nation’s early care and education programs are not only vital for the development of our youngest learners, but integral to our country’s economic success given the millions of working parents with children under age five,” said Heather Combs, CEO of StraighterLine. “This is about helping to bolster the early childhood workforce, while creating a pathway to upward mobility in a sector that has such a profound impact on adult learners, parents, employers and communities.”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated staffing challenges, the nation’s childcare programs had long struggled with a shortage of qualified early childhood education and care professionals and high turnover rates. A 2021 study from the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that half of childcare providers were serving fewer children as a result of hiring challenges. According to fall 2022 data from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, childcare employment is still down more than 8% since the start of the pandemic.

StraighterLine will launch the first three new courses on May 22 including Foundations of Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Development, and Teaching Students with Exceptionalities.  In June, StraighterLine will launch two additional courses, Classroom Management and Language and Literacy. These five courses are designed to help educators take the next step in their careers and closer to earning a college degree and increasing their earning power in the teaching profession.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average starting salary for an early childhood educator with only a high school diploma or GED is under $30,000. The starting salary for a head teacher with an associate’s degree is just over $40,000. And the starting salary for a kindergarten teacher with a bachelor’s degree is a little over $50,000.

Each course will be credit bearing and transferable, enabling students who are continuing their education to apply credit toward earning an associates or bachelors degree at one of the 2,000+ colleges and universities that accept StraighterLine credits for transfer.  In collaboration with StraighterLine’s subsidiary company ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI), students will also be able to complete the training hours required to earn their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential as part of a stackable pathway.

Dr. Chrystine Mitchell, an associate professor of education at Alvernia University who teaches courses on early childhood education helped develop the curriculum as one of StraighterLine’s faculty consultants.

“As our sector continues to grapple with a nationwide shortage of talent, investing in training and career advancement opportunities for early career educators is critical for making the field a more attractive and sustainable career choice,” said Mitchell. “By bridging the divide between certification and the degree, we can make careers in early childhood education more accessible for educators who are passionate about making a positive impact in the lives of infants, toddlers and young children.”

StraighterLine acquired CCEI in 2022 with the goal of expanding its course offerings beyond general education courses, and providing training and credentials for early childhood education professionals. The launch of the new early childhood education pathway is the latest in StraighterLine’s recent expansion into offering career-aligned courses and certificates, in addition to its well-known suite of general education college courses.  Learn more about StraighterLine’s new early childhood education course offerings.


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