Overview: Early Learning

Children with access to high-quality early learning and care (from birth to five years of age) do better in school, are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college, and are less likely to commit crimes.

Experience and evidence both highlight the importance of these early years to a child’s emotional, social and cognitive development. The quality of these early experiences is directly related to future social and academic success.

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 is little in the way of other funds to put to work to increase quality.

Compounding the problem, many child care providers work full-time while pursuing their degrees in early education, often without financial aid. The low wages earned by most child care providers often prevent them from seeking additional education and training. Some providers leave the field entirely, creating a shortage of skilled workers. Others seeking additional education and training are faced with a variety of community training programs that are not aligned with higher education programs.

EOI is working to overcome these challenges by helping to create a professional development system that ensures child care providers can access the education and training opportunities they need to get their young charges ready for school.

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.

Public policies that support high-quality early learning programs lay the foundation for childrens’ academic success, improve our business climate and promote broad-based economic opportunity.