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  • 22 Nov 2021 by Tricia Ginis

    Take Action to Help Early Childhood Education, We Need Your Voice

    I receive calls nearly every day from early childhood directors, executive directors and congregational leaders. They want to find out what resources are available to help early childhood centers struggling to find qualified staff, how can they manage budgets while keeping in line with current COVID-19 protocols and ratios as well as keeping a balance between enrollment and staffing. Times are tough right now for the field of early childhood education. Sara Wasserman of Sh’ma Koleinu shares some information on the current situation and what we can do to help.

    Please take a moment to read and take action. We need every voice. Now more than ever before.

    Early childhood centers across the United States are struggling with staffing, enrollment and finances. While this is not new, the COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on many of the long-standing issues affecting early childhood education, including, for example, affordable access to early childhood education, low teacher wages, and the lack of financial support from the government. The Build Back Better plan, which is being negotiated in Congress, seeks to address some of these issues. 

    One of the key objectives of the Build Back Better plan is to provide free or low-cost half-day preschool education for three- and four-year-old children across the country. As currently proposed, the Build Back Better plan would expand access to early childhood education for families across the country by offering parents program choice, infusing funds into schools both for improvements and increasing teacher salaries, offering teachers support to pursue higher level degrees, and stressing the importance of early childhood educators’ work on a national scale.

    The key to the Build Back Better plan, and the future of early childhood centers, is a mixed delivery model. As currently proposed, the federal government will support the existing childcare infrastructure with an infusion of funding intended to provide access to high quality preschools to 75% more families than currently have such access. Public schools, licensed center-based childcare providers, licensed family care providers, community childcare providers, and Head Start programs will all be eligible to receive funding from the federal government.

    This bears repeating: EVERY early childhood center will be able to apply for federal funding to increase teacher salaries, invest in the quality of the school, and reach so many more children. 

    We therefore need everyone to advocate for the field of early childhood. Contact your elected officials so we can get this bill passed! To find out who you should contact, visit:


    Sh’ma Koleinu (Hebrew for Hear our Voices), is a coalition dedicated to listening to and advocating for children, families, and early childhood education. 

  • 22 Nov 2021 by Fern Katz

    How A Lack of Qualified Teachers Impacts Families and the Economy


    Early childhood education is in crisis. Last month I wrote about the crisis of the shortage of educators and the challenge of finding qualified teachers who want to work in a demanding field that typically has low wages. 

    This month I am writing about the trials and impact this shortage has on families and our economy. According to a survey from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, four out of five daycare centers nationwide are understaffed. How does lack of available early childhood education impact more than families and children? A shortage of teachers means a shortage of spaces available in preschools and childcare for young children. A shortage of spaces means parents of young children may not be able to work. For many families, without childcare it is impossible to work. A young child cannot be left alone while a parent works outside the home. For parents that work in the home, it is nearly impossible to devote adequate attention to work and a child or children at the same time. Most of us, including families with young children, need gainful employment to pay their bills, feed and shelter their families, and be productive members of society in order for an economy to thrive.

     My niece, like many parents, was faced with the childcare dilemma in her plans of returning to work after her the birth of her baby. She shared with me her desire to return to work as a nurse, a job that is important for the health and safety of her community as well as providing necessary income so that she could raise her child. And yet she explained to me that she was having a hard time finding quality affordable childcare. The centers that were affordable were not accepting any more children because they did not have the staff needed. The one center they found that had space was so costly that what was left after paying for childcare would not be enough to pay their mortgage and all other bills - even in a two working parent professional family. My niece’s solution: She found a center quite a distance from both of their jobs and their home and they are on the waitlists at three centers that are closer.

     For our society and economy to function and to thrive, affordable high quality early childhood education is needed in every urban, suburban, and rural area in the country. Childcare cannot bankrupt families, and at the same time needs to significantly raise wages to attract and retain educators. It is time for the federal government to take a more active part in funding early childhood education – and you can help make this happen. Let your legislators know that you support federal funding for early childhood education in a mixed delivery system and that this funding is necessary for an economy to grow and thrive. You can do this by email, post card, phone call, and the easiest way is to go to this link and take 30 seconds to fill out the form. Call or write everyone you know and ask them to do the same. It is time to act.