“Research shows that when early childhood professionals have specialized training and education, children benefit.” This powerful statement is reported by NAEYC (The National Association for the Education of Young Children). NAEYC promotes Standards for Professional Preparation as part of their Power to the Profession campaign.
Locally, Smart Start supports policy that promotes increased education and compensation for the early childhood workforce. The current minimum requirement for lead teachers in early education programs is a high school diploma and one college course. The reality is that 63 percent have already obtained an Associate’s degree or higher while earning an average of $10.97 per hour and an assistant teacher earns an average of $9.97 per hour. Smart Start’s 2015 – 2016 Annual Report continues to teach us that forty percent of early childhood teachers qualify for at least one type of public assistance.
It appears whether we are looking locally or nationally, there is a strong case for broader support for education, increased compensation as well as continuing professional development for our early childhood workforce.
The first 2000 days in a child’s life is critical in their growth. A number of factors enter into the formula for thriving and optimum growth during this crucial time, and quality early childhood teachers certainly benefit our children. Our teachers should be compensated appropriately so that their attention can be on the care and teaching of our children and not on whether they can feed themselves or their families.