This week state budget planners need to hear from YOU, the dedicated workforce supporting families and children. The state will have a huge bump in child care funding ($727 million!) for the next 3 years.
In yesterday’s post, we suggested this is a great time to adjust the state’s voucher reimbursement policy. Programs should receive fair payment for serving low-income families.
Today, we encourage you to email them for more support for our workforce. YOU are the most important component of a high-quality center or family child care home. Children thrive when you have knowledge and training to support child development. However, we know how much you earn. State workforce surveys show many of you struggle to pay your household bills. How could you be expected to pay for college courses or to remain in the field?
Can we make some changes with this new chunk of money? Here are our thoughts. What are yours?
- We approve of T.E.A.C.H. expansion. T.E.A.C.H. is the Teacher Education and Compensation Helps scholarship program for early childhood educators. Fifty-six professionals have used this scholarship so far. That number will increase if we all say THANK YOU to budget planners, who have included expansion in their drafted budget already.
- We recommend adding a loan repayment option to recognize members of the ECE workforce who began pursuing their formal education prior to the availability of the T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship program. The State Teacher Education Program (STEP) administered through the Arkansas Department of Higher Education provides an excellent model.
- We would like the state to implement staff retention bonuses. These would be salary supplements based on the staff education and length of service. This method of supporting the workforce has been successfully implemented in other states through the WAGE$® program.
- We support the expansion of social-emotional supports. The pandemic has increased family stress and challenging behaviors among children. This makes your day-to-day work so much more difficult. We can equip our workforce with skills and tools to reduce challenging behaviors through expanded professional development, coaching, and consultation.
Do you agree with AECA about these priorities to support our workforce? Yes or no, the state needs your opinion.
Make your voice heard by emailing CCDFStatePlanComments@dhs.arkansas.gov by Monday, June 7.
Options to learn more
State draft plan for this budget (They need public input and who knows more about it than YOU?)
AECA recommendation for Equal Access/Fair Payment
AECA complete set of recommendations