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September 12, 2019
Earlier this year, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) introduced the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act, bipartisan legislation addressing the national shortage of affordable, quality child care, especially in rural communities, and the high turnover in the field. This legislation would provide grants to states like Alaska to support the training and retention of the early care and education workforce. It will also help to build and expand early childhood education programs in areas with child care shortages.
According to the Center for American Progress, more than half of Americans reside in areas classified as “child care deserts,” neighborhoods that are either lacking child care options or have so few early childhood education programs that there are more than three children for every licensed child care slot. A little over one-fifth of the country lives where 60% or more of the neighborhoods constitute child care deserts, including Alaska.
A 2019 Child Care Aware of America report showed that there are nearly 40,000 children in Alaska under the age of six with parents in the labor force, yet there are only about 850 licensed center-based and family child care homes in the state, which provide just 23,851 licensed child care slots. That means that one in four children in Alaska are without access to licensed child care when their families go to work.
Sen. Sullivan and Sen. Klobuchar agree that the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act would support early childhood educators being paid wages comparable to elementary educators with similar credentials and experience.These same funds could also be used to help build, renovate, or expand early childhood education programs in areas with child care shortages.By supporting the education, training, or retention of early childhood educators, securing a better future for the next generation looks optimistic, they said.
thread thanks Sen. Sullivan for his recent work with the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act and his help in making quality child care accessible a top priority for Alaska. Read his op-ed here.
To follow the progress of the Child Care Workforce and Facilities Act, click here.
Join the conversation on how early care and education plays a vital role in Alaska’s economy by joining thread Oct. 9 to 10 at No Small Matter: A Summit on the Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning in Alaska . Click here for tickets and information.
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