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Early Learning Teachers Challenge Congress to Help Infants Toddlers, Ease the Child Care Crisis for Parents
Last week on Capitol Hill, family child care providers, Head Start teachers, family support and child care center workers from *ten states, and members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) urged Congress to sharply increase federal support for infants and toddlers. They called for their representatives to adopt President Obama's 2011 budget proposals for key early childhood programs-$3.6 billion for expanded pre-school and Head Start opportunities, child nutrition programs, and higher-quality, affordable child care.
The call for increased funding comes just days after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released findings showing the long-lasting effects of low-quality care in the first few years of life, underscoring the urgent need for local, state and federal governments, employers and others to improve access to high-quality child care.
The amounts include a $1.6 billion increase for Child Care Development Block Grants and an additional $1 billion increase to Head Start and Child Nutrition in 2011, allowing 235,000 children to receive child care assistance and enroll 971,000 pre-school age children in Head Start.
"Congress needs to hear about this directly from us," says Beatriz Acea-Cordero, a Montgomery County Maryland family child care provider and member of SEIU Local 500 with 36 years experience in child care and family support. Acea-Cordero cares for nine children, including the 14-month-old baby of a nurse at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "There are thousands of parents looking for child care. I want to expand my child care so I can help workers who need evening care for their children."
As Americans face financial challenges in the worse economic crisis in decades, some parents have been confronted with limited child care options-even though it's basic necessity for many working families. Indeed in the U.S., more than 60 percent of children under six spend time in non-parental care.
Â "The economy has been tough on parents. I see them really struggling," says Susan Torngren, Owner and director of Pacific Pre School in Lynnwood, Washington. "One single mom has health issues and now has to pick up $300 in co-pays for physical therapy that she needs so she can keep working she's having to choose between getting her back fixed and paying for her son's education."
"Our society's work places would crash without child care and pre-school resources, and adults need to understand how much is depending on quality learning at early ages, said Torngren. "Maybe we need to retrain the brains of adults - try thinking differently about the value of early learning, about how we need good quality and high standards."
*Ten states included: California; Florida; Illinois; Louisiana; Maryland; Ohio; Oregon; Rhode Island; Washington; West Virginia.
Source: Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Washington, DC.