In case you missed it this past December, the District has new licensing requirements for teachers of infants and toddlers in DC day-cares. These new educational benchmarks are not being well received by current owners and workers. In fact, some of the affected providers will be regularly demonstrating downtown. It sounds as though in addition to the educational requirements, there are also a lot of detailed regulations that are really pushing day-care providers over the edge.
Instead of being known as one of the worst educational systems (and a disgrace as this is the nation’s capital), DC is now to be a leader in the improved care and education of young children. Conceptually this is a great idea. I am all for educating providers and for ongoing trainings. It is important to give babies and toddlers the best start possible. Simply tending to their basic needs is too low a bar. We know that the achievement gap starts early. And this is where any general agreement about this topic begins to unravel.
How about the financial impact of these new requirements? Who’s paying for this new improved workforce? It costs money to get the required education. Supposedly $3 million in subsidies are being allocated for the support of directors, teachers, and providers. We will see how that goes. But it’s not only money needed to meet the requirements, it is the time it will take to for people to take the courses to meet the benchmarks. And here’s the worst part for the workers: In the end, are the centers going to pay them any more money despite their educational investment?
Currently, there aren’t enough quality, affordable day-cares. These requirements are going to further reduce availability and exacerbate an already bad situation for working parents. As centers close because of these new requirements, parents are going to be scrambling for sure. While the goal of raising the bar for DC day-cares is the right move, figuring out the implementation needs much more thought. And money.