The NAFCC membership perspective on earning a degree is as diverse and varied as the family child care educators themselves. You are proud of your accomplishments, rightly so, in your preparation and your practice. We have pages and pages of stories you’ve submitted, about what you want and what you need, and as we read each one we celebrate the impact of the work that you do and we feel the pride shining through your words.
We know from NSECE data that about a third of home-based child care providers have a degree. We also know that valuing the strengths and competencies of the existing workforce is critically important in ensuring equity, and investing in learning happening where children are.
At NAFCC, we seek:
- Investment in the early childhood workforce – healthy and well, diverse and generously compensated
- Investments that are equitably distributed
- Investments where children are. Child care is early learning and early learning is child care.
Family child care has been shut out so many times. Sometimes this has been an unintended consequence and, sometimes quite on purpose if someone thinks you’re less for some reason.
“As a family child care provider, am I included in the preK policy of Build Back Better?”
The move to universal preK calls for states to “distribute new preschool slots equitably among child care (including family child care) providers, Head Start agencies, and schools within the state.” The preK investment does not start with the schools in the legislation.
Eligible applicants include school districts, Head Start, licensed child care centers, licensed family child care homes, family child care networks, or consortiums of these groups. The equitable distribution language in the preK section is hugely important for family child care participation and investment in learning happening where children are.
“Will I have to get a degree to get preK funding?”
In the preK section of the legislation, it calls for bachelor’s degrees with 6 years time to get it OR for early childhood educators working in eligible providers (including family child care for 3 of the last 5 years and has the “necessary content knowledge and teaching skills for early childhood educators,” they will not be required to meet the B.A. requirement. We do not know how this necessary content knowledge and skills will be measured, and getting this right is important.
NAFCC sees this as valuing the expertise of the current child care workforce. What to do about the pipeline and future workforce is a different thing that we’ll have to craft the answers to together. Getting the 0-5 child care entitlement funding right is a big part of that. So is fair housing, smart licensing, compensation, access to health care, and other things too.
There will be a degree requirement if a new family child care provider wants to be a part of the federally-funded preK program, but not if they’re a current family child care provider (for 3 of the last 5 years). These providers will be funded to be preK teachers if their state opts in and they want to be a part of it as we shape the equitable distribution into reality.
There are leaders in our early childhood community who think family child care does not belong, and does not belong in preK education. Together though, we are changing hearts and minds and policy.
Healthy child development happens in the context of relationships with trusted adults. Healthy child development happens with family child care. We’ve always known this. The pandemic made this real for countless others too. We will hold them to it.
Learning happens wherever children are. Learning happens in family child care.
At NAFCC, we fully recognize the very real damage that is done to neighborhood-based child care when a rigid preK delivery system does not recognize them. We see real family child care providers who have been told again and again that they don’t count. We also feel the pain of that judgement.
The future of family child care: who will do this work, and where and how?
The pipeline of future family child care providers does not come only through considerations of training and education for the early childhood workforce, though that’s certainly part of it.
NAFCC members have made it clear that housing is a huge stressor on their minds and this is crucial for the workforce of today and the future of the family child care field. How will the next generation of family child care educators afford a home where they are allowed (and not blocked) from operating a child care business?
NAFCC members have also made it clear that meaningful compensation and access to health care are things that need to change for them to sustain and consider the pipeline of the field.
Pathways to licensure and making licensing make good sense as a part of our quality practice is also a priority.
- more family child care providers to remain open,
- more family child care providers to get started,
- more family child care providers to join in the regulated system,
- more family child care providers able to participate in public funding when we make it make good sense, equitable sense and inclusion for all, and
- more family child care providers celebrated for their quality when we make those standards and incentives make good sense too.
We have a chance to make it make sense as we Build Back Better.
At NAFCC, we embrace the diversity and complexity of family child care and this field. You all belong in this field. You all belong at NAFCC.