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“At a Y.M.C.A. in San Antonio, 200 children are on wait lists for child care because of hiring problems. It raised average hourly pay for full-time workers to $12.50 from $10, but still can’t recruit enough workers to meet the demand.”

“Schools have largely reopened this fall, but life is far from normal for parents of young children. One reason is that child care — for children too young for school, and for the hours before and after school — is operating at 88 percent of its prepandemic capacity. Even before the pandemic, child care did not cover everyone who needed it.

“The shortage is partly because of the pandemic. Some centers went out of business after lockdowns early on. Because children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccines, many programs are enrolling fewer children to limit potential exposure. But the biggest reason for the shortages, child care providers across the country said, is they can’t find people to hire.”

“‘Can’t Compete’: Why Hiring for Child Care Is a Huge Struggle,” by Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times, September 22, 2021

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Vice President Kamala Harris and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Source: Screenshot U.S. Treasury Facebook page

Forty years ago, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen had the same problem that many of today’s parents do: Yellen needed a babysitter so she could go to work.

She placed a want ad seeking a sitter. Because both she and her husband were economists, they decided to offer a salary that was more than the going wage.

As Yellen explained last week in a speech about child care shortages:

“Classical economics says that it’s not rational to pay a worker more than the market rate, but we hypothesized it could be. The job might be an important one, for example, and a higher wage could encourage someone to do better work. That’s a completely rational reason to pay someone more, especially if the job is some of the most intimate work there is, which is caring for children.”

“Our hypothesis proved correct, at least in our own home. The advertisement led us to a babysitter who took wonderful care of Robert while George and I were at work.”

Today, parents face a far more dire situation. (more…)

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”New reports from two government agencies suggest that the child care system is failing families, and not just during the pandemic.

”According to data from a Census Bureau survey, the pandemic introduced strains that caused 3 in 10 adults with young children — 6.6 million total adults — to remove kids from child care this summer.

A Treasury Department report released Wednesday states that 1 out of 6 dollars in family income goes to pay for child care, which is more than the average family spends on groceries and close to double what the government calls affordable.

“ ‘The free market works well in many different sectors, but child care is not one of them,’ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at a news conference Wednesday.”

”New government reports paint child care system as ‘unworkable,’ ” by Joe Murphy, NBC News, September 16, 2021

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“Compared with K through 12 students, preschoolers are suspended at nearly 3 times the frequency of older students,” Molly Kaplan, the host of the ACLU’s At Liberty podcast, explains in a recent episode called, “How To End the Preschool to Prison Pipeline.”

The episode focuses on the racial and social inequities that even very young children must face.

To explore the issue, Kaplan interviews Rosemarie Allen, a School of Education professor at the State University of Denver.

As Allen’s faculty webpage explains, “Her life’s work is centered on ensuring children have access to high quality early childhood programs that are developmentally and culturally appropriate… Her classes are focused on ensuring teachers are aware of how issues of equity, privilege, and power impact teaching practices.”

On the podcast, Allen describes the cascade of expulsions that young children can face.

“We’re finding that children as young as eight months old began to be suspended and expelled from their child care programs, usually for doing typical things that babies do, like crying or biting,” she says.

(more…)

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Elliot Haspel, a former fourth grade teacher and policy expert, is calling for “a new form of local infrastructure,” the “early childhood district.”

These districts would create an easy way for parents to understand what – and where — their early education and care options are.

Haspel explains his take on this approach in a new white paper posted on the policy website Capita:

“Child care is not yet a right, and it lacks this kind of easily recognized governmental entity to oversee and provide services. If Kindergarten finds you, child care requires you to find it hidden within a deep, dark forest.”

“In a sentence: Early childhood districts are like school districts but for children five and under.”

This kind of local governance of early education is a concept that Strategies for Children explored in 2019, when we released the policy brief, “Local Governance for Early Childhood: Lessons from Leading States.” We pointed to North Carolina as a good example. (more…)

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Photo: mentatdgt from Pexels

 
Massachusetts child care providers – get ready to apply for a federal COVID-19 relief fund grant!

The funds are coming soon, and they will help providers emerge from the pandemic and rebuild.

Based on feedback from the field, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is committed to creating an “accessible application process.”
 

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Strategies for Children

 
There are a number of ways that you can learn more about these grants before the application is released. (more…)

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“Child care is a workforce issue, and prioritizing investment in the following ways will help to overcome this barrier:

• Investments in the child care workforce. In the short term, states can offer incentives such as signing bonuses for child care workers to return to work, and retention bonuses for established early childhood educators. In the long term, continued education grants and apprenticeship programs to support early childhood educators can meet the incredible demand for quality child care.

• Supporting working parents. States can and should invest in their data infrastructure. By creating databases that monitor the type and supply of child care available to communities, families and child care providers both benefit.

• Investing in the business side of child care. Stabilizing and growing the child care industry is a must. Grant and loan programs to stabilize existing child care programs and launch new, quality options will prevent child care deserts from growing, promote innovation from providers, and increase options for families.

“Many states are already leading by example.

“Arizona channeled $300 million in federal resources into return-to-work incentive programs that include $2,000 bonuses for those who return to the workforce, three months of child care assistance for people with children who return to work after collecting unemployment benefits, and housing assistance.”
 

“States taking the boldest actions on child care should be national models,” by Cheryl Oldham, Opinion Contributor, The Hill, July 15, 2021

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Photo: Eren Li from Pexels

 

In a new article, David Jacobson praises federal investments in early education and care. But, he writes, one “critically important” issue that receives less attention is partnerships.

Specifically, he asks, “how can elementary schools, early childhood programs, and health and social service agencies work together to improve quality and coordination across entire neighborhoods and communities and thus create the most positive overall environments possible for children and families?”

The article — “A game-changing opportunity: Rethinking how communities serve children and families” – appears on the website of Yale Medical School’s Partnership for Early Education Research (PEER).

Jacobson has been a longtime advocate of partnerships. He is the Principal Technical Advisor, Education Development Center, Inc., (EDC). And he also leads “EDC’s First 10 initiative, which supports school-early childhood-community partnerships to improve outcomes for children ages birth through 10 and their families.”

As he writes in the article: (more…)

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Screenshot: Child Care Aware

 
How can the federal government’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) help rebuild child care? Child Care Aware has listed answers on a comprehensive webpage with infographics and other tools.

“As an advocate, it is important that your voice is heard on how states use the funds from the ARP Act,” Child Care Aware says. “You know what policies implemented during the pandemic helped stabilize child care and what policies can help build a better system moving forward. It is important to ensure that funds are administered in an equitable, efficient and transparent manner.”

The goal for advocates: encourage states to use the federal relief funds in wise, strategic ways.

“Advocates will need to bring a list of policy suggestions for the state to consider supporting. One way to highlight the need for specific policies is through sharing stories collected from child care providers and families. They can use their own words to talk about the hardships they faced during the pandemic and which temporary policies helped them the most.” (more…)

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