The United States early care and education system is underfunded and broken. It’s expensive for parents, yet doesn’t pay teachers a living wage, and it drives inequities for families and racial pay gaps within the workforce. Our new infographic explains why tinkering with the existing structure of vouchers and tax credits without foundational reform will not fix the system.
The essential child care sector has sacrificed and struggled to serve children and families since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s (NAEYC’s) newest survey, completed between November 13–29, 2020, by more than 6,000 respondents working in child care centers and family child care homes, shows that the crisis facing child care is as consistent and devastating today as it was in March and in July of 2020. With 56% of child care centers saying they are losing money every day that they remain open, programs are confronting an unsustainable reality, even as they are taking desperate measures – putting supplies on credit cards, drawing down personal savings, and laying off staff – to remain viable for the children and families they serve.
The Department’s Office of Educational Technology recently released a Spanish version of the Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide, a resource to help parents and guardians understand how digital tools can provide tailored learning opportunities, engage students with course materials, encourage creative expression, and enrich the educational experience. The Spanish version allows the guides’ resources, tips, and information about best practices to reach more families. The Department released the English version of the Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide on Oct. 23.
It is essential that young children receive an equitable, positive, and healthy start. That is why any policy agenda to dismantle systemic racism in this country must include bold reforms to the ECE system that concretely address equity in access, experiences, and outcomes. Although the challenges in our system are complex and stepping away from the status quo is not an easy task, proactive investments and policy reforms to address racial equity in ECE will ripple into other inequitable domains of life – K-12 education, employment, wealth building — and across generations.
Thirty-six child care centers in Illinois’ rural counties have committed to testing new Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) practices as part of a planned revision in ExceleRate Illinois standards. The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is supporting the centers through a new method of quality improvement funding. All licensed child care centers in Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) Group 2 counties were invited to participate if at least 40% of their children participate in CCAP.
The centers are testing three innovations: (1) IDHS contracts pay up-front for the salary and staffing pattern enhancements needed to meet pilot ExceleRate standards. Funding is allocated per classroom, not per child. (2) Programs implement the pilot standards, including regular team meetings and Plan-Do-Review cycles for CQI. (3) Program assessment instruments, including the Environment Rating Scales (ERS), are used at the beginning of the process to help guide improvement planning. Results are never made public, and the scores are not used in determining a rating or Circle of Quality. Assessors and leadership advisors from the McCormick Center are supporting the centers.
The pilot is sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) and IDHS. It is supported by federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) and state child care funds.