March 12, 2020

Senators Young, Casey, Capito Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Child Care Workforce

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today introduced the Early Educators Apprenticeship Act to support apprenticeships in early childhood education. While child care costs strain working families, child care workers are often faced with low wages and long hours due to a lack of available educators, especially in rural areas. Apprenticeships are an innovative way to address these challenges.  


For working families across the United States, accessing affordable and high quality child care has become increasingly difficult – particularly in rural areas where center-based care is extremely rare. According to federal metrics, families depending on child care providers spend 40 percent more than what is considered affordable. To put these statistics in perspective, in 33 states and the District of Columbia, infant care costs exceed the average cost of in-state college tuition at public four-year institutions.In addition, only 11 percent of child care providers are considered high quality. By investing in early childhood education, child care workers can access affordable higher learning opportunities and families can find more essential child care options. 


“Our bill supports the role of apprenticeships in improving child care affordability and provides professional development opportunities to potential child care workers,” said Senator Young. “This is especially critical in rural areas, including many communities in Indiana, where finding affordable child care is particularly challenging.”


“Investing in early childhood education is a benefit to both our students and our economy. When children learn more earlier, they earn more later. The Early Educators Apprenticeship Actwould create a pathway to the education profession and support the emotional, social and academic development of young children in Pennsylvania and across the Nation, by growing the child care workforce and equipping child care workers with the tools and resources they need to help children succeed,” said Senator Casey.


“Access to quality and affordable child care can be particularly challenging in rural areas like those in West Virginia,”saidSenator Capito. “The Early Educators Apprenticeship Actis a commonsense solution to this issue and will help bridge that gap by strengthening our early childhood education workforce. Giving our educators a clear pathway to successful careers allows us to increase the quality and coverage of care, providing relief to both families and childcare workers in our state.”


Child care workers often remain in the near-lowest percentile for wages. In 2017, the median hourly wage for child care workers was $10.72 making college debt from a four-year or graduate degree difficult to manage. In fact, more than 50 percent of child care workers received benefits from a public-support or health care program, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.  


Apprenticeships offer a creative solution to combine on-the-job training with business partnerships in order to solidify a career pathway. Apprenticeships lead to a credential that is transferable between employers, involve some degree of compensation during training, and cost significantly less than tuition at a traditional institution. Because the early childhood education workforce faces considerable barriers to higher education and professional development, apprenticeships present an innovative path forward. 


Specifically, the Early Educators Apprenticeship Actwill provide resources to child care apprenticeship programs in order to:

  • Equip apprentices with specialized knowledge and skills required in early childhood education work.
  • Increase the number of apprentices with a recognized credential or degree.
  • Promote recruitment and retention of apprentices.
  • Provide a pathway to career advancement for apprentices.
  • Track individuals who have completed an apprenticeship to determine effective program strategies.
  • Support partnerships with institutions of higher education and businesses to provide transferable credit to apprentices.
  • Support apprenticeships in underserved or rural communities.


The Early Educators Apprenticeship Actalso removes regulatory burdens restricting the presence of home-based child care providers in rural areas.


Supporters of this legislation include the First Five Years Fund, Bank Street College of Education, Bipartisan Policy Center, Child Care Aware of America, Early Care and Education Consortium, KinderCare Education, National Head Start Association, National Association for the Education of Young Children, New America, The Ounce of Prevention Fund, Save the Children Action Network, ZERO TO THREE, Early Learning Policy Group. 


“Early learning and care programs across America rely on highly trained, well-qualified educators to provide children with the highest quality education and care in the first years of life. Apprenticeship programs allow current and future educators to earn while they learn and acquire the skills and support they need to advance in their career,” said First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Sarah Rittling.“States that have already rolled out early learning apprenticeship programs are seeing their benefits not only for the educators but for the children who are in their care. FFYF is pleased to see Congress working to build on this momentum and we are proud to endorse this bipartisan legislation.”


Click here to learn more about the bill.