Early Childhood Educators Set Florida Kids on the Path to Success
A highly-qualified, well-compensated teaching staff is key to quality early care and education
Quality early care and education (ECE) can strengthen Florida’s current and future workforce, contribute to a strong state economy and public safety, and enhance national security. Increasing investments in Florida’s early education system will help it better meet the needs of children, families, and educators. When families do not have the child care they need, parents’ work productivity falls, resulting in costs to parents, their employers, and taxpayers. Lack of access to preschool places children from families with low incomes at risk of starting school already behind their more advantaged peers. Inadequate compensation and subpar working conditions for educators results in high levels of turnover, impacting the quality of programs.
Bolstering the early childhood workforce is essential to increasing quality child care opportunities, strengthening our economy, and developing our future workforce.
Alfred Sanchez, President & CEO, Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce
There are other consequences as well. Florida jails are full of people convicted of serious and costly crimes. It doesn’t have to be that way. Providing at-risk children with high-quality ECE opportunities can help reduce the human and fiscal costs of crime in the future by setting children up for success in school and beyond. Further, our national security relies on qualified young adults who are ready, willing, and able to serve in the U.S. military. However, educational deficits, health issues, and other problems (substance misuse and crime) prevent 72 percent of Florida youth from qualifying for service. Healthy early development sets the stage for children’s future success. Without improvements to the ECE system, our nation risks having an even smaller military recruiting pool in the future.
I believe there has never been a more crucial time in the history of America than there is today, for every citizen to invest in improved outcomes for children.
Sheriff Walter McNeil, Leon County
Florida policymakers must continue to grow access to quality early learning programs. A fundamental feature of ECE quality is highly-qualified teachers who are well-trained both before and during their service and who need to be adequately compensated. Quite simply, to hire the best talent requires adequate investment. Florida policymakers must address the needs of the ECE workforce to ensure that families have the programs they need, parents can work, and children can be set on the path to success. In particular, Florida’s ECE workforce solutions must include meaningful preparation, ongoing professional development, and sufficient compensation. Action and innovation now can improve the experiences of Florida children today and strengthen our state in the years to come.
For national security, our military needs leaders who are disciplined, are literate, and who spend time learning and growing every day. Those very qualities are developed in early childhood education programs.
Lt. General (Ret.) Mark P. Hertling, U.S. Army, Orlando