The registered Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist program began in West Virginia and has now been adopted in more than 30 states across the country.

In April of 1989, Dana Daugherty, the West Virginia state director of the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, had a vision. He approached Dr. Norma Gray, director of River Valley Child Development Services in Huntington, West Virginia about providing apprenticeship training opportunities for women in child care.

Usually, apprenticeships are associated with bricklayers and pipefitters. Yet historically, early kindergarten teachers learned by working with a master teacher because teacher education resources were limited. So an apprenticeship model for child care was considered a good fit.

Dana and Norma worked with local and state programs to secure funds and develop a curriculum for the first class. The Child Care Apprenticeship Training, as it was originally called, was born. The first four semester course was finished by 17 apprentices, who received an official U.S. Department of Labor certificate.

The project quickly gained support from other funders and partners. Soon, apprenticeship classes included staff from Head Start, public school and preschool programs. The name was changed to Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist (ACDS) to express the inclusive nature of the program.

Today the registered West Virginia Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist is a statewide project. West Virginia's efforts have received national recognition and the child care apprenticeship model is quickly expanding nationwide.