Law Enforcement Leaders Discuss Importance of Supporting the Early Care and Education Workforce
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids hosted a panel on Capitol Hill to release a new report on the crisis facing early education teachers in America
Quality child care, particularly for infants and toddlers, is often unavailable or unaffordable for many families, especially for those with low incomes. One of the main drivers of this crisis is inadequate compensation and subpar working conditions for early educators, which result in high levels of turnover, impacting the availability and quality of programs.
That is the key takeaway from the new report, “Child Care Educators Set Young Kids on the Path to Success”, released yesterday at an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The report comes from the law enforcement membership group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, part of Council for a Strong America.
The law enforcement members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids know that early childhood education programs are a powerful way to give kids the right start in life and help them avoid becoming involved in crime later. To achieve this public safety goal, programs must be high-quality, and educator compensation, education, and professional development are key components of quality.
Speaking at the event were Fight Crime: Invest in Kids members Tommy Clark, Jr., Chief of Police & Superintendent of Safety Services for Grambling City, LA, Michelle Zehnder Fischer, County Attorney for Nicollet County, MN, and Kim Stewart, Sheriff of Doña Ana County, NM. They were joined by Lynita Law-Reid, Director of Kids Are Us, a child care provider located in Washington, DC.
The panelists were also joined by Senator Amy Klobuchar, who provided remarks.
“One of the things I focused on when I was Hennepin County Attorney was how to help keep kids from getting involved in crime. When we would make things more efficient I used to say ‘Yes we want to be like a business in some ways but we aren’t a business. Why? Because we don’t want repeat customers,’” said Senator Amy Klobuchar. “The way that we prevent repeat customers is by investing in kids. I’m proud of the work being done here today because there is nothing stronger than law enforcement people standing up and saying ‘Yes, we need to prosecute and investigate crimes, but we also need to stop them from happening in the first place.’”
“When I became a Chief of Police, I took on the responsibility to help keep our kids and our communities safe. What I’ve learned from my years in law enforcement is that some of the best tools for keeping children safe are the programs that give kids the best foundation they need to keep them on the right path and away from crime. The only way to ensure that those programs work, is by ensuring our children are being cared for by highly-qualified care and education professionals,” said Tommy Clark Jr., Chief of Police & Superintendent of Safety Services for Grambling City, LA.
“What our report outlines is that in order to have quality ECE programs, we need highly-qualified teachers who are well-trained before and during their service. In order to support working families in Minnesota and across the country, we need federal support for programs that have proven to help these teachers get the training they need, as well as the compensation they deserve,” said Michelle Zehnder Fischer, County Attorney for Nicollet County, MN.
“As a Sheriff, the importance of ECE as a crime prevention tool is important, but what is often overlooked in these conversations is ECE is not just critical for crime prevention, but for those working in law enforcement to be able to do their jobs,” said Kim Stewart, Sheriff of Doña Ana County, NM. “Support for high-quality child care is an investment in our future public safety, crime prevention, and those that help keep Americans safe.”
“Providers want to help as many families as we can by giving their children quality early education, but we need help if we are to ensure that our educators are adequately trained and compensated without making it impossible for families to afford our care. Before and during the pandemic, many federal programs were a critical lifeline for families and providers, and they are needed now more than ever,” said Lynita Law-Reid, Director of Kids Are Us.
Read the full report here.