Reps. Wild, Guthrie Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Meet Child Care Demand
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives Susan Wild (PA-07) and Brett Guthrie (KY-02) introduced the bipartisan Early Educators Apprenticeship Act, legislation to help meet the increasing demand for early childhood educators by supporting and expanding states’ efforts in developing, administering, and evaluating early childhood education apprenticeships. This legislation comes at a critical time, as access to quality, affordable child care will be integral to our nation’s reopening process and economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We face an impending child care crisis, and if we don’t invest in the long-term success of child care and early education – one of the sectors hit hardest by this pandemic – our nation will struggle to get folks back to work and rebuild our economy,” Wild said. “Strong apprenticeship programs for child care workers encourage future educators to join the field and help equip them with the skills they need to be successful and support the young children they care for. As our nation begins to move toward a period of recovery, this legislation helps empower Americans to return to the workplace and find new career opportunities. I’m thankful to Rep. Guthrie for working with me on this legislation that puts a down payment on our future economy and on the success of our young people.”
“At the top of every parent’s mind right now is how schools and day care facilities may reopen,” Guthrie said. “As we continue to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, it will be especially important to have trained educators to help our kids succeed. Early childhood education is critical for the development of young kids from birth to age five and for their families. Kentucky has a great early childhood educator apprenticeship program in place, and the Early Educators Apprenticeship Act will further help Kentucky continue this work and support other states establish and expand similar programs. I want to thank Rep. Wild for working with me on this bipartisan, commonsense bill.”
Throughout this pandemic, Wild has joined multiple efforts to support the increasingly dire need for affordable, accessible child care and early education services. A cosponsor of the Child Care is Essential Act, Wild has been an outspoken advocate for the child care sector through her work on the House Education and Labor Committee, calling attention to the thousands of child care providers that have had to shut their doors through the COVID-19 pandemic or operate at reduced capacity and the strain this placing on working parents as businesses begin to reopen.
Well-qualified early childhood educators are a critical component to ensuring high-quality early learning for children from birth through age five. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is estimated that 180,000 child care jobs are expected to open each year over the next decade. Even before this pandemic, nationwide, states were encountering a shortage of early childhood educators to meet the increasing demand in this field. Early childhood education apprenticeship programs can help alleviate this shortage by providing on-the-job learning opportunities for future teachers and encouraging early childhood educators to enter and advance in this field.
The Early Educators Apprenticeship Act is supported by ten early childhood education advocacy groups, including the First Five Years Fund, the Pennsylvania Association for the Education of Young Children (PennAEYC), Child Care Aware of America, and the National Head Start Association. Companion legislation has also been introduced by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) in the U.S. Senate.
“Early learning and care programs across America rely on highly trained, well-qualified educators to provide children with the highest quality education and care in the first years of life. Apprenticeship programs allow current and future educators to earn while they learn and acquire the skills and support they need to advance in their career,” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “States that have already rolled out early learning apprenticeship programs are seeing their benefits not only for the educators but for the children who are in their care. FFYF is pleased to see Congress working to build on this momentum and we are proud to endorse this bipartisan legislation.”
“Through the work in Pennsylvania we know apprenticeships can reduce barriers early care and education professionals experience in accessing higher education, said Jen DeBell, the Executive Director of PennAEYC. “They lessen financial challenges, along with logistical concerns such as time commitment, child care and transportation needs, as well as access to technology. Building the support of highly-qualified early care and education professionals helps us increase high-quality program capacity, ensuring children are receiving developmentally-appropriate early care and education.”
Specifically, the Early Educators Apprenticeship Act would:
- Increase the number of apprentices (including apprentices in underserved or rural areas) with a recognized postsecondary credential, a certificate of completion of an apprenticeship, or a degree from an institution of higher education;
- Promote recruitment and retention of apprentices;
- Provide a pathway to career advancement for apprentices;
- Evaluate and collect data with respect to career paths of individuals who have completed an apprenticeship;
- Support partnerships with institutions of higher education in the state, businesses, and other entities (i.e. states and localities, employers, workforce intermediaries, such as childhood agencies and associations, public workforce system, and community or philanthropic organizations) to provide credit for instruction;
- Develop strategies to hire and retain supervisors to support apprentices.