On May 30, Clare McCann wrote the above-linked article for the New America Foundation’s Early Ed Watch. In her article, she reveals the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announcement of “a new round of child care regulations” which would raise health and safety standards at child care centers, provide program information and quality metrics to parents (e.g., a star rating system so parents would know if a center earned one or more stars), and allow children to remain enrolled in a child care center used by working parents, even after a parent loses his or her job. McCann emphasizes that the “regulations could be significant in another way, too: They focus on education as a crucial aspect of child care.”
McCann describes the changes which she summarizes as “a more holistic, systemic approach” to program change. She tells us that many of these new, more systemic reforms were “among those listed in the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC)” and “are designed to transform the entire child care profession, from learning to the workforce.” Unfortunately, McCann also must tell her readers that “because the new regulations come from HHS and not Congress, there is no new funding for them” and that “HHS is asking states to do more with less.”
Once again, there will be inconsistency across the care that our youngest of citizens and learners receive. Some states will take up the cause and find money to set aside for increasing the quality and safety of child care settings, and some will not. As McCann says, some will be left wondering how they will maintain services for current recipients of benefits received through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) “while trying to raise quality at the same time.”
What we need is to keep the conversation going. We can’t throw our hands in the air as parents, child care providers, community members, members of Congress, state legislators or anyone else who cares about the United States of America’s future. McCann encourages her readers to join the conversation by logging in through Disqus, Twitter or Facebook (An email address is required for a Disqus account, but McCann tells us it will not be publicly displayed. Signing in with Twitter or Facebook gives you the option of publishing comments in those streams as well.). I encourage every member of our society to fight for the safety, health and brain development of those under 5 years old whenever an opportunity arises, whether that be by helping a frustrated, young parent in the grocery store, taking the time to listen to a neighbor or colleague who can’t find quality child care, or writing a letter to your member of Congress or President Obama.
The littlest of all have no voice and the voices of 2- to 5-year olds are limited (and can often be whiney and difficult to understand!), but if we don’t demand that every child under the age of 5 receive the best quality and safest care they can receive, the United States will continue to be on the downward spiral that it is on in terms of education, crime, quality of life, and so much more. But, if we all band together for the cause of our smallest, we can build a better society, which means we can compete better in the global marketplace, which means the world will respect us, want to invest in us as a nation, and buy our products, and which ultimately means Americans will have greater job security and wealth. It’s about sacrificing for great reward down the line. It’s about creating opportunity for all so that there is greater opportunity for those who would seize it fully and whole-heartedly. It’s about treating others well so that the good comes back around for you. It’s about believing that the world is interconnected and that there is a connection between the happiness of others and our own happiness. Who wouldn’t want the best for adorable, helpless, hungry-to-learn infants and toddlers and the amazing people who care for them? To me, it seems like being a part of the conversation and, even better, taking action for children and caregivers should be the easiest decision in the world!