Child Care Early Educators Set Michigan’s Young Children on the Path to Success
A qualified, well-compensated teaching staff is key to quality child care
Quality child care can strengthen Michigan’s current and future workforce, contribute to a strong state economy and public safety, and enhance national security. Increasing investments in Michigan’s child care system will help it better meet the needs of infants and toddlers, older children, families, and early childhood 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 quality child care also 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 early educators results in high levels of turnover, impacting the quality of programs.
There are other consequences as well. Although Michigan has made great strides in recent years, too many Michiganders still have contact with the criminal justice system. Providing children who historically have been underserved with high-quality early learning opportunities can help reduce the human and fiscal costs of crime in the future by setting children up for success in school. 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 71 percent of Michigan youth from qualifying for service.Healthy early development sets the stage for children’s future success. Without improvements to the child care system, our nation risks having an even smaller military recruiting pool in the future.
Our armed forces need young people who are well-educated and disciplined. The path to these outcomes begins in high-quality early childhood education programs.
Major General (Ret.) Thomas G. Cutler , U.S. Air Force, DeWitt
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated longstanding challenges faced by Michigan’s child care system. Michigan experienced a net loss of 637 child care providers during the pandemic, further impairing a sector that cannot meet the overwhelming demand for its services. Thus, many parents, especially mothers, have been forced to reduce their work hours or leave the workforce.
An investment in the early childhood education workforce is an investment in the future of Michigan’s children and the prosperity of the state..
Milton Scales, ML Scales & Associates, LLC, Okemos
A fundamental feature of child care quality is highly-qualified early educators who are well-trained before and during their service and who need to be equitably compensated. Michigan policymakers must address the needs of the child care workforce to ensure that families have the programs they need, parents can stay in their jobs, and young children can be set on the path to success. In particular, Michigan must improve compensation for the child care workforce; strengthen career pathways, professional development and collaboration; and conduct a public awareness campaign to elevate the value of the early childhood workforce and support recruitment of new talent. Lawmakers can take action now to improve workforce compensation and make child care a more attractive field by supporting Governor Whitmer’s proposed tax credit for child care educators. Action and innovation now can improve the experiences of Michigan children today and strengthen our state in the years to come.
America’s kids are our future. We must invest in them now to secure our future. Supporting early education is a great place to start!
Sheriff Scott Wrigglesworth, Ingham County Sheriff’s Office