Tag Archives: advocating for children

Striking While the Iron’s Hot: Becoming an Advocate for Early Childhood Education

early-childhood-advocate

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Election Day is just around the corner. One of the most crucial topics being brought to the forefront of voters’ minds this election year is that of investing in quality educational experiences for young children. Those of us in the field of early childhood have long been aware of the importance of this topic, but we are finally starting to hear the leaders (and potential leaders) of our communities, and of this nation, give it some credence.

Investing money in young children has been proven, time and again, to yield numerous benefits down the road for the individual child, his/her family, and society as a whole. A report entitled “The Economics of Early Childhood Investments” published  in December 2014 cited reductions in crime, as well as lower expenditures on health care and remedial education down the road as just a few of the societal benefits to investing in early childhood. Families who have dependable, high-quality child care options are able to remain productive members of the workforce. Children who experience quality early care and education experiences, by and large, are more likely to grow up to become contributing members of society, themselves.

At this point in our nation’s history, we, as early childhood educators, have a unique opportunity. We can use our first hand experiences working with young children, our depth of knowledge about child development, and our collective voice as early childhood professionals to spread the message to our leaders that young children, and those of us who educate and care for them, deserve the resources necessary to create high quality early learning environments and experiences.

By working together, each one of us has the power to influence the direction early care and education is preparing to take in our country. In addition to the important work we do with young children and their families each day, becoming an early childhood advocate is another way we can contribute, on a much larger scale, to the advancement of the education of young children in our community, as well as our country. You can begin your journey as an early childhood advocate by taking any (or all!) of the following action steps:

  • Visit websites like 4cforchildren.org. www.usa.childcareaware.org, or www.naeyc.org on a regular basis to stay educated about current topics, research and best practices in early childhood.
  • Join, and become active in, early childhood professional organizations like NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children), NAFCC (the National Association for Family Child Care), or CEC (the Council for Exceptional Children), to name a few.
  • Contact your state representative and/or the White House to express your thoughts, feelings, opinions and concerns regarding quality early childhood in your area. You can find contact info for state reps here. You can contact the White House here.
  • Read about the current child care proposals that are being offered by our presidential candidates.
  • Register to vote prior to Election Day
  • VOTE on Election Day (Tuesday, November 8)!

Remember to spread the word, every chance you get, to your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and community leaders about the importance of investing in early childhood education. There is strength in numbers. By uniting and taking action, we can improve the state of early childhood education in our communities, and our nation, for the benefit of the children in our care, and for generations of children yet to come.

It’s Criminal Not to Protect Children

Believe it or not, in some states it is possible for a convicted felon to legally work in a child care facility. Furthermore, only 17 states require a check of staff against the sex offender registry. Ohio and Kentucky are among those who don’t require this check.

According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA), “currently there is no national safeguard to ensure that the more than 11 million children in child care are cared for by providers without a criminal record.” Child care regulations on background checks vary from state to state. This means that someone could have a vast criminal record in one state, move to another state and work in child care.

Parents have lots to juggle when making the difficult choice about care for their child. They shouldn’t have to worry about whether the caregiver has a criminal background. Parents should be able to expect that their child will be safe.

There is a solution.

A comprehensive background check is available. This check, using fingerprints, covers criminal background, the sex offender registry, and a check of the child abuse and neglect registries. This type of check cannot be falsified like the type that requires only a person’s name. Legislation that will mandate these checks nationally is currently pending in Congress.

We don’t have to wait for the law to pass. There is a lot you can do now. You can stand up for the children in your program by instituting a comprehensive background check for staff. If you believe in this as strongly as I do, you can contact your Senator or Representative and use this simple form to send them a letter.

This, we can all agree on. Our primary job is to protect and keep children safe. Parents count on us to look after their most prized possession and we should take that responsibility very seriously. Please join me in relentless support of comprehensive criminal background checks of all child care providers.