Senators Young, Casey, Capito Re-Introduce 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.) yesterday re-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, especially as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made it more difficult for families to make child care arrangements and the industry struggles to survive.
“Our bill supports the role of apprenticeships in improving child care affordability and provides professional development opportunities to potential child care workers, which is more important than ever as we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Young. “Our bill is especially critical in rural areas, including many communities in Indiana, where finding affordable child care is particularly challenging in normal times, and even more dire during the current public health crisis.”
“As children across the Nation face disruptions to their learning and development due to the COVID-19 pandemic, investing in early care and education has never been more important. The Early Educators Apprenticeship Act would create a pathway to the education profession, increase wages and support the emotional, social and academic development of young children in Pennsylvania and the U.S. 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,” said Senator Capito. “The Early Educators Apprenticeship Act is 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.”
Specifically, the Early Educators Apprenticeship Act will 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 Act also removes regulatory burdens restricting the presence of home-based child care providers in rural areas.
Supporters of this legislation include Bank Street College of Education, Bipartisan Policy Center, Child Care Aware of America, Early Care and Education Consortium, Educare Learning Network, First Five Years Fund, KinderCare Education, National Head Start Association, National Association for the Education of Young Children, New America, Save the Children Action Network, Start Early, and ZERO TO THREE.
“In communities across the country, early learning educators provide young children with the highest quality education and care in the first years of life, but many communities are facing workforce shortages of highly trained, well-qualified educators. Apprenticeship programs are key to addressing these shortages and are a great opportunity that allows current and future educators the ability to earn while they learn and acquire the skills and resources they need to advance in their careers,” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “In states where apprenticeship programs for early learning careers have been implemented, communities are seeing the tremendous benefits of a growing, high quality early learning workforce, and it is time for Congress to make these programs a reality at the federal level. FFYF thanks Senators Young, Casey, and Capito for their leadership in introducing the bipartisan Early Educators Apprenticeship Act. We are proud to continue working with lawmakers to prioritize the needs of the early learning community and families in the 117th Congress.”
Click here to learn more about the bill.
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