Reps. Wild, Guthrie Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Meet Child Care Demand

February 4, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (D-PA) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) 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 putting our nation on a path toward economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Here’s the bottom line: Supporting our child care sector is a an absolute prerequisite to rebuilding our economy. Workers cannot return to their jobs—and the U.S. economy cannot fully rebuild—if families are unable to access quality child care. And this pandemic has devastated our child care sector,” Wild said. “Strong apprenticeship programs for child care workers encourage future educators to join the field during this critical time 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, while giving parents the freedom to return to the workplace.”

“Early childhood educators are vital to help kids up to five years old start their education, but schools are facing a shortage of qualified early childhood educators,” Guthrie said. “As we are working to defeat COVID-19 with safe and effective vaccines and restore our country, it is critical that students safely return and remain in classes with in-person instruction from skilled teachers. I introduced The Early Educators Apprenticeship Act to help meet the increasing demand for teachers. An investment in a highly qualified workforce of early childhood educators is also an investment in our students, who are our future leaders. I appreciate Rep. Wild’s work and support on this commonsense bill to strengthen this important job field.”

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. 

Throughout this pandemic, Wild has led multiple efforts to support the increasingly dire need for affordable, accessible child care and early education services. In September, Wild introduced the bipartisan 21st Century Community Learning Centers Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020, legislation to create new, short-term flexible grant programs for 21st Century Community Learning Centers—the only federally funded initiative dedicated to supporting afterschool, before-school, and summer learning programs—to expand their operations to include programs during school hours. Wild’s bill, intended to aid parents’ return to the workforce while ensuring children can continue their learning in an academically supportive environment, passed the House with strong bipartisan support in September.   

“In communities across the country, early learning educators provide young children with the highest quality education and care in the first years of life, but many communities are facing workforce shortages of highly trained, well-qualified educators. Apprenticeship programs are key to addressing these shortages and are a great opportunity that allows current and future educators the ability to earn while they learn and acquire the skills and resources they need to advance in their careers,” said First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “In states where apprenticeship programs for early learning careers have been implemented, communities are seeing the tremendous benefits of a growing, high quality early learning workforce, and it is time for Congress to make these programs a reality at the federal level. FFYF thanks Congressman Guthrie and Congresswoman Wild for their leadership in introducing the bipartisan Early Educators Apprenticeship Act. We are proud to continue working with lawmakers to prioritize the needs of the early learning community and families in the 117th Congress.”

The Early Educators Apprenticeship Act is supported by thirteen early childhood education advocacy groups, including the First Five Years Fund, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Child Care Aware of America, and the National Head Start Association, and the Early Care and Education Consortium.