We believe the early childhood workforce are key players when it comes to children’s education.
Early childhood educators not only support brain development and school readiness, parents of 130,000 Arkansas children rely on our services to earn a living. STRONG BRAINS are built through RELIABLE RELATIONSHIPS and STIMULATING PLAY with loving adults.
Arkansas will have high-quality care & education options for every child & family and a diverse, highly qualified, well-supported early childhood workforce. Birth to 5 years old is the most critical period of brain development for humans. It is a disservice not to maximize this time. Communities will benefit from investments in high quality care starting in infancy. As part of that investment, we must begin to educate, pay, and value early educators as professionals.
To connect, develop, and represent Arkansas early childhood care and education professionals. In doing so, we elevate the diversity, equity, and vibrancy of the profession and to ultimately promote high-quality care and education for all Arkansas children & families.
Read our full Policy Agenda here.
Increase Pay and Benefits for the Early Childhood Educators
Competitive salaries and benefits are necessary to attract and retain an early childhood workforce that has the skills and experience necessary to provide quality early care and education.
Support the Establishment or Expansion of Quality Child Care Programs
The need for more infant and toddler care is a statewide problem, and in most counties, less than 25 percent of the demand is met by quality programs.
Support Families to Pay for Quality Child Care
Current state and federal funding only covers child care for about half of eligible low income families, and families with incomes just above the eligibility cutoffs have a difficult time paying for even lower quality child care.
In Arkansas, 2 out of 3 children under age 5 live in homes where both parents work. Many Arkansas children spend about 11,500 hours of their lives in child care in the years before kindergarten. That’s more time spent in an early care and education setting than they’ll spend in school from kindergarten through 9th grade!
Early educators are engaged in incredibly difficult and complex work—literally shaping children’s brains to become Arkansas’s future students and professionals. Unfortunately, day-to-day challenges our educators face make delivering high-quality care and education difficult.
Four in 10 of Arkansas’s early childhood educators report being food insecure. That means they “ran out of food and didn’t have money to buy more” or “cut meal sizes or skipped meals altogether because there wasn’t enough money for food”. This rate goes up to 50% for infant/toddler teachers.
Quality of care for children is affected by teachers’ compensation. When teachers are stressed about paying their bills, it is harder for them to build positive adult-child relationships that are critical to help children learn. However, employers cannot afford to increase teachers’ wages without increasing parent fees.
Public investments in high-quality early care and education support our working parents. High-quality programs strengthen business today while simultaneously building the workforce we’ll depend on for decades to come. Since March 2020, there have been multiple rounds of federal funding to help child care providers respond to the challenges of COVID-19. These funds have stabilized child care, for now – but they haven’t solved the fundamental crisis. Our congressional leaders need to hear from Arkansans that child care needs permanent federal support to keep our state moving forward!
Take Action with Us
Share our Public Policy Agenda. Help advocate with us by highlighting the three key areas we want people to pay attention to when it comes to early childhood care and education.
Use #keyPLAYers in your social media posts and our virtual “button” in Zoom meetings and email signatures: download here.
Contact our Senators and your local representatives (find out who yours is here) to let them know that we thank them for the money provided to our programs during the pandemic, but when it runs out we are likely to have greater challenges than before.
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has created this advocacy handbook to help you in your policy advocacy efforts by providing tools and tips we have learned in our more than 40 years of advocacy for our state’s kids. Download it here!
We also invite you to join the nearly 1,500 professionals from around the state who have come together for more than 50 years on behalf of children and families in Arkansas. Join the Arkansas Early Childhood Association today!