by Rachel Hunter
Wow, ECE has been in the news more than ever.
Every story makes it painfully clear that early childhood education’s staffing crisis is real.
It’s so challenging for center directors to manage so many open positions, COVID-related staff absences, and operating under capacity.
It’s incredibly difficult for early childhood educators to continue in roles that require so much — including working closely with an unvaccinated population — and yet don’t pay well or, most of the time, offer the protections of benefits.
It’s beyond painful and exhausting for families that need their kids in school in order to go to work — but school may be closed to them for reasons of staffing or exposure. That is, if they have access to an ECE program at all.
The more these stories are told, the more our friends and neighbors understand why early childhood education needs public investment.
But let’s not just talk about the economic impacts. Let’s invite others into our shared vision of ourselves as a diverse, effective, well-prepared and well-compensated workforce.
The crisis is real. But we are awesome. So let’s start there.
I loved how my Task Force colleague Christina Goodwin reinvented Rosie the Riveter as an early childhood educator. She wrote, “The path right now shows we need to nurture, cultivate, LOVE, RESPECT and HONOR all the people doing this hard work. To build them up, provide them with wellness supports and give them breathing space to grow.”
I loved reading about the amazing ECEs who are part of a new scholarship cohort at CCV. Participating in a Prior Learning Assessment to earn college credits for experience. In the story, Vickie Gratton earned 43 credits from previous experience, which motivated her to continue taking courses part time until she earns her Associate degree – and has her eyes on a BA. What a great component to the bridge for our current workforce: getting credit, quite literally, for your experience and expertise!
Sometimes when I get down about the current crisis, I get cheered by reminding myself about the people I do this with: the people who are shaping the future of ECE while also giving children high quality early learning experiences every day. Because ECEs are the greatest people in the world. (Next to young children, that is.)
Rachel Hunter is the outreach coordinator for Advancing as a Profession.