Why can’t we lift all boats?

by Staci Otis

I’ve been watching this week’s PBS NewsHour series “Raising the future: America’s child care dilemma.” This topic is so important to me as a family child care provider in Springfield and as a member of Vermont’s Task Force to advance early childhood education as a profession. We know research shows that access to an affordable, high quality, mixed delivery ECE system offers critical and enriching experiences for children, allows their families to participate in the workforce if they choose to, grows our economies, and reduces public spending on social services over time.

So in Monday evening’s segment on how the market controls the costs of early childhood education, when I heard this quote from researcher Katherine Stevens – 

“We can’t have everything. We cannot advance women’s careers and boost the economy and optimize early childhood development all at the same time. This is just — this is just a tough reality.”

– it made me ask, why can’t we? This, to me, is exactly what we are trying to do in our work to advance as a profession.

Federal investments into Early Childhood Education supports parents and enables them to spend more meaningful time with their children and families while they are not working. 

Helping families financially with child care could put less stress on them and may even allow parents to work fewer hours a week, increasing time spent with children. 

Investments in ECE to include livable wages for educators would be a huge boost in advancing women’s careers, as almost 97% of ECE workers are women, and would allow mothers to advance their careers by staying and advancing in the workforce. This in turn boosts the economy: with a higher workforce comes more spending on needed items. 

Investments in the ECE field itself provides higher educated and qualified staff which will optimize early childhood development in children enrolled in programs. One of the many roles of an early childhood educator is working together WITH parents to provide essential skills children need to be successful in life. We are a team: like the old saying “it takes a village,” this is exactly what ECE is: a village.

Rather than “we can’t have everything,” I believe “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Our jobs are not supposed to be us (educators) against them (parents), but a team of caring educators and parents working together to provide children with the skills they need in life.

Click here to watch the full series “Raising the future: America’s child care dilemma,” airing on PBS NewsHour Monday, July 13 – Friday, July 16.

Staci Otis is a member of Vermont’s Task Force to advance early childhood education as a profession. owns Little Allstars Childcare and Preschool in Springfield. She has operated her Family Child Care program for 15 years, including the last five years as a Pre-K partner. Staci has an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Human Services. She has been the co-leader of her local Starting Points network for the past seven years and enjoys supporting other providers in the network to enhance and strengthen, not only their programs, but also themselves. Staci and her husband live in Springfield and have five children and one grandchild.