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Labor report shows early childhood education must become crucial investment

July 5, 2016
Economics and FinanceGovernance and AccountabilityState & Local
Chrystian Tejedor
FIU News

It’s past time to boost our investment in early childhood education. Educators who care for our children from birth to third grade have a pivotal role in preparing our children for school, but as a society we’re letting them down. A recent report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor suggests that low wages in the early childcare workforce are undermining the quality of early childhood education. Across the country, teachers are underpaid, but the data from the report highlight what early childhood advocates know to be shockingly true. Pay for the early childcare workforce is shameful.

A childcare worker trying to support a family of three would be earning below the poverty level in 32 states, according to the report. How can that be? How can we tout the value of early education while paying some of our educators little more than a parking garage attendant? The research on the value of high quality early childcare is clear. Children with positive early experiences are more likely to demonstrate long-term success, both socially and academically. This is especially true for economically disadvantaged populations, for whom early learning experiences may be particularly critical. Yet the financial investment needed to support this effort is glaringly absent.