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Department of Early Learning and Care

Pathways and Training to a Higher Ed Degree or Certificate

Whether you're just starting out, looking to take your career to the next level, or exploring roles outside of the classroom these resources can help you find the right path.

Explore Other Roles in the Field

Higher Education for Child Care Providers

Oregon is committed to investing in early childhood education as evidenced by the support for early childhood teacher compensation requirements that align with those in the kindergarten environment. Oregon increased investments in publicly funded early childhood programs (i.e., Oregon Prekindergarten, Preschool Promise, contracted slots) to implement those requirements. In addition, the state is working to guarantee professional supports such as planning time, paid professional development time, wellness and health benefits, etc.

In partnership with Early Learning Hubs and other key organizations, the Department of Early Learning and Care continues to work on building greater public understanding of the critical role and impact early childhood educators have on children and families.

Going hand in hand with fair compensation, educators also need pathways to early childhood degrees and ongoing professional learning supports in order to implement best practices. Emphasizing higher education reflects the recommendation in Transforming the Workforce (NRC, 2017) to transition to a minimum bachelor’s degree in early childhood. "in order to fully realize the opportunities for young children, an early childhood educator must be deeply grounded in the science of early learning. Ideally, postsecondary general education …." Alvin (2019). As the support for early education as a public good solidifies into policy your services will be increase exponentially. These conditions can ensure that Oregon retains the workforce it needs, rather than continue to see a quarter of the workforce leaving the field each year.

Child Development Associate Credential

The Child Development Associate® (CDA) Credential™ is the most widely recognized credential in early childhood education (ECE), and it is a key stepping stone on the path of career advancement in ECE. The CDA® is based on a core set of competency standards that guide early childhood professionals toward becoming qualified educators of young children. The Council works to ensure that the nationally transferable CDA is a credible and valid credential, recognized by the profession as a vital part of professional development. Learn more on the organization’s website.

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Oregon Registry and Community Colleges

The Oregon Registry works closely with community colleges across the state. Click a graduation cap on to see what programs are available. Contact the community college to learn how you can:

  • Move up on the Oregon Registry
  • Find college courses related to the Core Knowledge Categories
  • Graduate sooner and save money

Use your Oregon Registry Step 7 or Child Development Associate (CDA) to get college credits. Depending on the college, this is known as "Credit for Prior Learning," "articulation," "challenge courses," or "transcription." Requirements, options, and costs vary by college but typically range from 9 to 15 college credits for a Step 7 or CDA and as little as $10 per credit.

Check out the Oregon Registry’s Scholarship Programs to see if you're eligible for help.


The purpose of Early Learning Higher Education Consortia is to form collaborative partnerships in regions involving institutions of higher education, CCR&Rs and other early learning stakeholders to accomplish the following:

  • Develop and provide higher education pathways for Early Educators to obtain credits, certificates and degrees in Early Care and Education
  • Support Early Educators in obtaining college credentials, certificates and degrees through cohorts, culturally and linguistically responsive practices, scholarships and other innovative strategies that are responsive to their needs

This effort reflects the vision of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s Strategic Roadmap for Oregon Postsecondary Education and Workforce Training , for “a future in which all Oregonians—and especially those whom our systems have underserved and marginalized—benefit from the transformational power of high-quality postsecondary education and training.” Emphasizing higher education reflects the recommendation in Transforming the Workforce. The consortia reflect the recommendations for implementing NAEYC’s Standards and Competencies, that state policies “elevate professional preparation programs designated and accredited by the early childhood education profession as the core pathway.”

Consortia Request for Funds (RFAs) for the 2023-2025 biennium were awarded to the following colleges, universities and child care resource and referral (CCR&Rs) agencies:

Clackamas Community College in partnership with: 

  • ​Clackamas County CCR&R 
  • Other partners include: CAPACES Leadership Institute, Clackamas County Children’s Commission Head Start, Oregon Child Development Coalition, Early Learning Hub, Multnomah County Pre-K for All, Yamhill CCO, Early Learning Hub Washington County, Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R)- MWVCAA Marion-Polk, Clackamas and Washington Counties, Willamette Valley Wine Foundation.​

Southern Oregon University in partnership with:

  • Klamath Community College
  • Umpqua Community College
  • Rogue Community College
  • Southwestern Oregon Community College
  • South Central, Southern and South Coast CCR&Rs:
    • Child Care Resource Network
    • Care Connections & Education, and
    • Care Connections of Coos and Curry County.​

Portland Community College in partnership with:

  • Multnomah CCR&R
  • Other partners include: Hillsboro School District, Latino Network, Multnomah County Preschool for All. Multnomah Education Service District PCC’s Grow Your Own Project PCC’s Addiction Counseling Workforce Diversity Program, Portland Public School’s Early Learners Program, Washington County Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R)

Neighbor Impact in partnership with:

  • Central Oregon Community College

Columbia Gorge Community College in partnership with:​

  • The Gorge CCR&R: Child Care Partners (CCP),
  • Other partners include: Columbia Gorge Educational School District (CGESD), Great n’ Small Child Development Center (GNS), Hood River County School District (HRCSD), Mid-Columbia Children’s Council (MCCC), Oregon Child Development Coalition (OCDC), and Western Oregon University (WOU)

​​The Higher Education ECE Consortia focuses on removing barriers and opening access to early childhood education degree completion. By establishing partnerships with universities, colleges, CCR&Rs, and other groups, the consortia will:

  • expand access to ECE career pathways;
  • reduce financial and non-financial barriers, and
  • empower more students to attain ECE degrees and certificates.

The Higher Education ECE Consortia requirements align with the NAEYC's Increasing Qualifications, Centering Equity report:​

  • Accessible: combining debt-free and loan-forgiveness policies
  • Possible: reduce and eliminate non-financial barriers to success
  • Align with Our Realities: consider all practicum settings
  • Efficient: create seamless, articulated teacher preparation pathways
  • Feasible: lessen the time it takes educators to reach attainment
  • Real: value experience with college credit
  • Supportive: use cohort models and mentors
  • Consistent: streamline accountability systems (ex. align with Spark, NAEYC competencies)
  • Bigger: think outside the classroom (ex. technology solutions)
  • Responsive: Support development of student leadership and advocacy role and responsibilities

The role of the agencies is to coordinate with partners to reduce barriers to student success and be responsible for reporting and billing to the Department of Early learning and Care.

The work must incorporate the following areas of support and sub-categories within each area of support listed below from NAEYC (2019), pg. 16-18:


Early learning apprenticeships are an important strategy for developing a skilled, diverse, and high-quality workforce in the field of early childhood education.

Early learning apprenticeships provide a structured, hands-on approach to workforce development in the field of early childhood education. Apprenticeships offer practical experience and on-the-job training that can help prepare individuals for careers in the field.

Through apprenticeships, individuals can gain experience and knowledge that can help them advance into higher-level roles, such as lead teacher, program director, or early childhood education consultant.

In addition, the early childhood education field is facing a shortage of qualified professionals, and apprenticeships can help address this workforce demand by providing a structured pathway for individuals to enter the field and gain the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful.

Early learning apprenticeships can help promote equity by providing individuals from diverse backgrounds with opportunities to enter the field of early childhood education and gain the skills and knowledge needed for success. This can help ensure that all children have access to high-quality early learning experiences, regardless of their background or circumstances.

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Find Training

There are a variety of trainings and webinars available through ORO, and our various provider information sessions and rule trainings. To find more about trainings visit our trainings page[link], or sign up to receive our Child Care Update Newsletter [link] that highlights additional trainings and resources of interest to providers.