by Ann Bookman and Anne Douglass, UMass Boston
This ViewPoint piece originally appeared in the Boston Business Journal.
When young children birth to five have access to high-quality early care and education, they are far more likely to complete high school, go to college, and become productive workers and engaged citizens. When working parents have access to quality child care, they can be productive and focused employees. The group that is consistently overlooked in this “win-win” scenario are the child care providers that parents and employers rely on. It is time to elevate the critical role of the early education workforce and their contributions to our children and economy.
The early education system is in crisis because we have failed to recognize the essential role that early educators play. Our research shows that low compensation and a lack of professional development opportunities are to blame. Early educator salaries average $25,000 a year, only a fraction over the federal poverty level for a family of four. Economic hardship forces many of these workers— who are predominantly female — to rely on public support systems to make ends meet.
Speaker Robert DeLeo and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable (MBR) launched a groundbreaking public-private partnership with the recent release of a landmark report, “The Business Imperative for Improving Early Education.” We applaud the speaker and members of the Early Education and Care Business Advisory Group for their leadership. We strongly endorse their vision and bold recommendations for rebuilding a broken workforce development system through increased compensation and professional development opportunities. Read more.