StraighterLine, a creator of affordable, flexible, and career-aligned postsecondary courses, today announced the acquisition of ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI), one of the largest online training providers for early childhood education professionals. The addition of the early childhood education learning platform, which served more than 87,000 teachers and staff across more than 6,200 childcare centers in 2021, reflects StraighterLine’s commitment to expanding access to training that closes persistent talent gaps and creates pathways to economic mobility.
“As the pace of change in the labor market continues to accelerate, employers in fast-growing fields – from early childhood education to healthcare – are in search of new approaches to talent development that bridge the gap between learning and work,” said Heather Combs, CEO of StraighterLine. “This acquisition is about helping to further the promise of flexible, affordable education to both meet the needs of employers and help more people chart a path to rewarding careers.”
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 more than eight in 10 early childhood providers were experiencing staffing shortages, and half were serving fewer children as a result of hiring problems. Just this month, the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment reported that childcare employment is still down more than 8% since the start of the pandemic, even as the broader economy recovers.
Since its founding in 2005, CCEI has launched more than 500 online childcare training courses to meet state licensure and Head Start requirements, as well as online certificate programs for nationally recognized credentials, including the Child Development Associate (CDA), Director Certificate, Early Childhood Credential, and other continuing education options. CCEI also manages the RegistryOne workforce management system, which helps state agencies and regulators collect and maintain data on early childhood education.
“There is an urgent need for qualified early care and education workers across the nation,” said Maria Taylor, president of CCEI. “This acquisition is about building more lifelong learning opportunities that give passionate individuals flexible pathways to careers. We are excited to join the StraighterLine family and further expand the potential entry points into this meaningful profession.”
The continued evolution of StraighterLine’s offerings comes as most Americans continue to be skeptical about the value of postsecondary education and its alignment with jobs. Best known for its low-cost, competency-based courses that are recommended by ACE Learning Evaluations, StraighterLine supports learners by providing flexible and affordable pathways to their career goals. Through its partnerships with employers, including Bright Horizons FastTrack, learners can upskill while working on a schedule and at a pace that meets their needs.
This acquisition is the first step in StraighterLine’s plan to expand its course offerings, building on a significant investment by BV Investment Partners in April 2020. District Capital Partners served as the financial advisor and Ropes & Gray LLP served as the legal advisor to StraighterLine for this transaction.