Early learning is the basis for our children’s success in school, in work, and life. High-quality early learning relies on the most critical factors in teacher-child interaction: the teacher’s own professionalism, education, compensation, and morale.
But the market for child care is fundamentally broken in Washington State. Demand for high-quality care far outstrips supply; families can barely afford to pay existing prices for child care, let alone for the true cost of high-quality care. Fees have reached their maximum, directors and owners see little if any profit, and there are no other funds to put to work to increase quality.
The public, that is, our government, has a responsibility for the provision of high-quality early education and care, as it does for K-12 education. But it will take public and political will to ensure this responsibility is fulfilled.
Fortunately, there is already a template for success in the child care market that is ready to be replicated. The union of family child care providers is already working together to build public will and increase the quality of care. The child care center workforce now has an opportunity to do the same.