The service provision of early education and care is essential to the continued operation of our economy! This is perhaps one of the most significant wide-spread public acknowledgments across Michigan and the nation because of the COVID health emergency. And yet, the early childhood workforce remains undervalued and underpaid. This fact not only impacts the existing workforce but makes it nearly impossible to recruit and keep new, qualified, and committed early childhood educators. To interrupt this churn, it is critical that wages of early childhood educators be increased and other compensation like benefits and varied professional development opportunities become standard. Such opportunities should include multiple pathways to certification and credentialing to ensure diversification of educators by race and gender. Research shows that having teachers of the same race or ethnicity can positively impact student’s motivation, engagement, attitude, academic performance, and overall educational experience (Egalite, Kisida, Winters, 2015).
In Detroit, 300 families were surveyed this (2020) summer and over 50% mentioned cost as a barrier to accessing childcare. In addition to the problem of access, the cost of childcare poses major barriers to families. Consequently, meaningful policies relative to increases in childcare subsidy must be time-barred to address both the supply and demand for early education and care options, specifically monthly contracts vs weekly reimbursements (supply) and increased family eligibility to 185% FPL (demand).
Supporting the health of our community is more important now than ever before. Healthy parents and caregivers nurture healthier children. As a first step to ensuring access to quality medical and social services, Hope Starts Here is advocating for a universal screening and referral system. This system will ensure that all pregnant mothers and babies are screened early for developmental delays and referred to necessary resources through a warm and intentional hand-off. (Learn more from our Imperative #1 partners: Henry Ford Health System & Detroit Health Department).
While the Hope Starts Here framework includes 26 policy priorities, our current policy efforts focus on three priorities described above and listed below.
- 1. Establish and sustain a comprehensive cross-sector workforce strategy.
- 2. Tie-bar continued increases of initial childcare eligibility to 185% of poverty for families and childcare subsidy reimbursement rates with a shift to contract for providers.
- 3. Establish and sustain a universal screening and referral system.
These wins cannot be achieved by any one person or group. Every Detroiter has a role to play in guaranteeing that children are born ready and supported to thrive in a city that puts them first. Getting involved with district parent-led events, attending city council meetings, talking to and writing your representatives, completing surveys, and joining Hope Starts Here action teams are all ways that you can participate in and advocate for the change we all want to see. We encourage you to learn more and join us as Detroit Champions For Hope.
Egalite, A.J., Kisida, B., and Winters, M.A. (2015). Representation in the Classroom: The Effect of Own-Race Teachers on Student Achievement. Economics of Education Review, 45, 44–52.