In response to an increasing demand for qualified child care professionals, Bluefield State College has established an "Associate Degree in Occupational Development--Child Care Practitioner," in affiliation with the Child Care Development Specialist Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP). Representatives of BSC, the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, WV Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist, Mercer County Economic Opportunities Corporation, Princeton Community Hospital, The Council of the Southern Mountains/McDowell County Head Start, and Greenbrier County Head Start participated in an agreement-signing ceremony at the College. Dr. Betty Rader, BSC Provost, noted, "This program meets the guidelines of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services. It involves 300 hours of classroom instruction and 4,000 hours of on-the-job training." The 64-credit hour program is designed for students who complete the RAP in Child Care Development Specialist and required college coursework. Dana Daugherty, State Director of the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, added, "This AAS degree program will complement the occupational specialty classroom education and on-the-job training already available through apprenticeship programs at selected County Head Start programs by providing general studies and technical support knowledge and skills." Selected county Head Start programs have requested implementation of this degree program, citing the continuing need for better educated aides and other child care workers, Daugherty observed. Recent welfare reform legislation ensures that, as former welfare recipients enter the workplace, more child care facilities will be started to provide day care for the increasing number of small children needing such care. "Graduates of the Occupational Development--Child Care Practitioner program will provide competent, caring employees to staff these facilities," he concluded. In addition to Daugherty and Rader, other participants in the signing ceremony included Dr. Robert Moore (BSC President), Cynthia Beal (Chairperson, WV Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist), Webster Gilbreath (Program Manager/Mercer County Economic Opportunities Corporation), Willa Whittaker (Director/Princeton Community Hospital Day Care Center), Helen K. Carson, Director of Health & Education, The Council of the Southern Mountains McDowell County Head Start), and Terri Wontrobski (Director/Greenbrier County Head Start).