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Pathways to ECE: Early Childhood Education / Child Development Practitioner


The Centre for Professional and Part-Time Learning offers two different programs for those who are interested in becoming a Registered Early Childhood Educator:

The table below is designed to help potential students decide between these two pathways and make the right decision for their personal situation.

Program overview
Early Childhood Education College Diploma Child Development Practitioner Ontario College Certificate Certificate of Apprenticeship
Quality early childhood education (ECE) is critical in preparing children for future learning. As an early childhood educator, you will play an integral role in promoting children's development from birth to age 12 within the following five domains: cognitive, social, emotional, language and physical. In the online ECE program (which includes three placements), you will engage in theoretical studies along with practical applications. Moreover, professional practice and ethics will guide you in working with families, understanding pedagogy and fostering belonging and well-being in children. This program is designed for those already working in the early childhood education field who wish to pursue formal studies and receive certification. Child Development Practitioner (CDP) apprentices are required to take 23 modules of in-school training. This training is completed part-time through evening classes. CDP graduates may apply to obtain their Early Childhood Education diploma after completing two additional ECE Communication courses and three General Education electives. Durham College delivers the in-school training portion of the Child Development Practitioner Apprenticeship Program. The CDP Certificate of Apprenticeship is awarded from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD), upon the successful completion of the in-school training and the practical work experience (on-the-job-hours) as mandated by MLTSD.
Early Childhood Education Child Development Practitioner
Length of program Length of program
1.5 to 2 Years 3 to 5 Years
Number of Courses Number of Courses
20 courses 3 placements (plus 3 General Education Electives) 17 courses 6 placements (then, 3 General Education Electives and 2 ECE Communication courses)
Format of Courses Format of Courses
Asynchronous - online, no scheduled classes Synchronous – scheduled weekly classes at Whitby campus or via Zoom / Teams
Textbooks Textbooks
Required for many courses, as noted in course outlines. Required for many courses, as noted in course outlines.
Placement Information Placement Information
  • 3 unpaid placements
  • Student may not be placed where they work
  • 180-250 hours each
  • 6 paid placements
  • Usually done where student is employed
  • 40-96 hours each
Early Childhood Education Child Development Practitioner
Tuition fees Tuition fees
  • $175.00 - $425.00 per course*
  • $417.00 per placement
  • $70.00 plus HST per course*
  • $22.60 plus HST per placement
Admission Requirements Admission Requirements
Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) including Grade 12 English (C or U) (minimum 60%) OR Grade 12 equivalency certificate achieved through College academic upgrading OR Mature Student Status (19 years of age or older) with Grade 12 English (C or U) (minimum 60%) Students must:
  • Be at least 16 years of age
  • Have legal permission to work in Canada (for example, have a valid social insurance number)
  • Have a sponsor (employer who is willing to take on an apprentice) in Ontario
Admission Steps Admission Steps
Fill in the program application form Once accepted, register for courses according to the Program of Study. To be eligible to enroll in the Durham College CDP program, you must be registered as an apprentice with the MLTSD: You must find an employer to hire and train you on-the-job before your training program can begin. An MLTSD Apprenticeship Training Agreement must be signed (by you as the apprentice, your employer and your MLSTD assigned Employment Training Consultant (ETC) before you enroll at Durham College.   Following signing of an apprenticeship training agreement you must then make an application to the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) and pay the membership fee. For more information about OCOT please visit www.collegeoftrades.ca
Early Childhood Education Child Development Practitioner
Steps to become registered ECE after graduation Steps to become registered ECE after graduation
Upon completion of all ECE courses and placements, apply to graduate.  Register with the College of ECE Upon completion of all CDP courses and placements, apply to graduate.   Then, apply to the Bridge to ECE program.  This is comprised of 2 ECE Communication courses and 3 General Education Electives.
Other advantages Other advantages
  • ECE Grants
  • Financial Support is available through ECE Grants Ontario
  • ECE is OSAP Eligible. 
  • Apprenticeship Completion Bonus (non-Red Seal)
  • This $2,000 taxable cash grant is available to those who are out of high school and have completed their training in a non-Red Seal trade.

*prices are subject to change.

For more information or to speak with a Student Advisor about your particular situation, contact PPL.


As the Director of the Children’s Services Division, supporting more than 300 child care programs in the Region of Durham, I recognize the essential need for qualified Early Childhood Educators to offer high-quality services across the early learning sector.

As an Early Childhood Educator for more than 25 years, I can attest to what a rewarding experience it is to work in partnership with families, caregivers, and community partners to support children’s learning, development and well-being, while fostering their sense of belonging.

Lisa McIntosh RECE, M. Ed, Director – Children’s Services Division, Social Services Department, The Regional Municipality of Durham