Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathway Program Expanding After First Year

Executive Dave Somers today announced that the first cohort of the new Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways program is graduating, and the program will expand to four additional school districts in the fall. The program provides high school students with hands-on, in-classroom experience to become early childhood education providers. The program is funded by the County’s federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation and is operated in partnership with Sno-Isle TECH Skills Center.

According to Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) data, Snohomish County lost 25 percent of its child care workforce during the pandemic, which represents more than 1,100 providers.

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.

Early Childhood Education is a high priority of mine,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Jared Mead (District 4). “This program will go a long way to address the dire shortage of early childhood education providers, which was exacerbated during the pandemic. Reaching out to high school students interested in this career while investing in their futures with the Pathways program is a win-win for everyone.

Access to affordable childcare is a significant challenge for families in Snohomish County. These investments in our future workforce in childcare will help ensure we have sustainable childcare options in the future,” said County Council Vice Chair Nate Nehring (District 1).

An essential component of addressing the need for more childcare services in our community is increasing the workforce pipeline so that we have enough skilled professionals in the field,” said Councilmember Megan Dunn (District 2). “I am grateful for the work that the county has done to address the childcare short fall and congratulate the first graduating class from the Youth Early Childhood Education Career Pathways program.

The program focuses on preparing high school students for careers in Early Childhood Education and Para Educator roles. Students complete 120 classroom hours in courses aligned with Everett Community College 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. Students in this first cohort get in-classroom experience at Pathfinder Kindergarten Center, which is part of the Mukilteo School District.

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.

Five high school students are graduating from the first cohort. All graduates who are at least 18 years old will take the Washington State Para Educator Exam in June and will work at the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, or other local early education centers this summer. Graduating seniors are planning on attending college in the fall, with several pursing early childhood education teaching degrees.

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.

The program will expand to four additional Snohomish County school districts in the fall: Arlington, Granite Falls, Monroe, and Sultan. The expansion focuses on school districts in more rural areas of North and East Snohomish County where child care access is most severely limited.

Students interested in learning more about the 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 for more information. Program participation is completely free for the students.

Executive Somers established the Office of Recovery & Resilience to guide the County’s recovery work by ensuring federal pandemic relief is administered quickly, effectively, and equitably. Information on the County’s recovery work can be found at

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