Sarah Albahadily, OKAEYC SECA Representative, Representative Tom Cole, and Dr. Stephanie Hinton, OKAEYC Public Policy Chair
April 3, 2023
The Oklahoma Association for the Education of Young Children’s State Legislative priorities include:
Support adequate funding to provide Oklahoma’s young children with a safe and high-quality early childhood education that includes a developmentally appropriate curriculum tied to State Standards and authentic assessment measures.
In order to assure Oklahoma’s families of high-quality early care and education programs, funding cannot be continually diminished.
Support Early Childhood Professionals with a career ladder, leading to a degreed lead teacher in every classroom with adequate compensation.
A system needs to be in place that will attract and retain high-quality educators at the critical stage of
early brain development to enable future school success.
Support local initiatives that promote high-quality in early childhood programs benefiting Oklahoma's children.
Local quality initiatives build a stronger partnership to better meet the needs of
and make decisions for Oklahoma's families and providers.
What is quality in an early care and education setting?
This is a question that people often ask and most of us have a hard time answering. Early childhood research often focuses on this topic and the answer can seem a little confusing since a variety of words and categories are used to describe essentially the same characteristics that come together to make high quality settings for our young children.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a well-respected leader in working toward understanding and ensuring the highest quality learning for all children from birth through eight years old so that all children thrive and reach their full potentials. NAEYC’s list of quality standards (sometimes called indicators) is comprehensive, research-based, field-tested, and consistently updated as early childhood research evolves.
NAEYC’s quality indicators for high quality programs:
· Positive relationships
· Well-planned written curriculum
· Appropriate and effective teaching approaches
· Ongoing child assessment approaches
· Healthy children and staff
· Teaching staff with specialized knowledge & skills
· Strong family partnerships
· Community relationships
· Safe and healthy environments
· Effective management and operations
Thanks to the 7,500 educators who completed the most recent NAEYC survey, all of you who helped share it, and the amazing policy, research, marketing, and creative services teams at NAEYC.
Please visit www.naeyc.org/pandemic-surveys for the survey brief or you can also find it directly here: Progress and Peril: Child Care at a Crossroads
The survey found that relief funds have provided critical support for stabilizing child care programs and preventing more widespread permanent program closures (for example, 46% of respondents in child care centers and family child care homes – as well as 54% of minority-owned businesses – say their program likely would have closed without help), but they are just the beginning of what is needed to recover and rebuild. A few highlights:
· 80% of respondents from child care centers said that they were experiencing a staffing shortage. Half of them are serving fewer children; one in every three have a longer waitlist or are unable to open classrooms; and one in every four have reduced their operating hours.
· 78% of respondents identified low wages as the main obstacle to recruitment of educators, while 81% percent said they are the reason educators leave.
· More than one-third of respondents said they were considering leaving or shutting down their child care programs this year; this percentage increases for minority-owned programs, more than half of whom are considering permanent closure.
As states are still making determinations on how to increase compensation with relief funds, we also want to flag the data point that 73% of early childhood educators who responded say they would want their compensation to increase temporarily (for 1-2 years), even if it eventually reverted to what they earned prior to the pandemic (and knowing that substantial federal funding is needed to make these increases sustainable and permanent instead). At the same time, 56% of early childhood educators working in centers and family child care homes are worried about being cut off from public benefits (like SNAP or housing subsidies) if their compensation is increased, so we also emphasize the importance of solutions such as income disregards, to ensure educators who are receiving increased and emergency financial support do not find themselves in a situation resulting in a loss of public assistance that is crucial to their families’ well-being.
We hope you find this resource helpful as we work collectively to urge Congress to #SolveChildCare, and we look forward to sharing state data soon. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or to ask for additional information!
The NAEYC Policy Team