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Senators Capito, Young, Casey introduce bipartisan bill to support child care workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) today introduced the Early Educators Apprenticeship Act to support apprenticeships in early childhood education. While child care costs strain working families, child care workers are often faced with low wages and long hours due to a lack of available educators, especially in rural areas. Apprenticeships are an innovative way to address these challenges. 

“Access to quality and affordable child care can be particularly challenging in rural areas like those in West Virginia,” said Senator Capito. “The Early Educators Apprenticeship Act is a commonsense solution to this issue and will help bridge that gap by strengthening our early childhood education workforce. Giving our educators a clear pathway to successful careers allows us to increase the quality and coverage of care, providing relief to both families and childcare workers in our state.”

“Our bill supports the role of apprenticeships in improving child care affordability and provides professional development opportunities to potential child care workers,” said Senator Young. “This is especially critical in rural areas, including many communities in Indiana, where finding affordable child care is particularly challenging.”

“Investing in early childhood education is a benefit to both our students and our economy. When children learn more earlier, they earn more later. The Early Educators Apprenticeship Act would create a pathway to the education profession and support the emotional, social and academic development of young children in Pennsylvania and across the Nation, by growing the child care workforce and equipping child care workers with the tools and resources they need to help children succeed,” said Senator Casey.

Child care workers often remain in the near-lowest percentile for wages. In 2017, the median hourly wage for child care workers was $10.72 making college debt from a four-year or graduate degree difficult to manage. In fact, more than 50 percent of child care workers received benefits from a public-support or health care program, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. 

Apprenticeships offer a creative solution to combine on-the-job training with business partnerships in order to solidify a career pathway. Apprenticeships lead to a credential that is transferable between employers, involve some degree of compensation during training, and cost significantly less than tuition at a traditional institution. Because the early childhood education workforce faces considerable barriers to higher education and professional development, apprenticeships present an innovative path forward.

Specifically, the Early Educators Apprenticeship Act will provide resources to child care apprenticeship programs in order to:

•          Equip apprentices with specialized knowledge and skills required in early childhood education work.

•          Increase the number of apprentices with a recognized credential or degree.

•          Promote recruitment and retention of apprentices.

•          Provide a pathway to career advancement for apprentices.

•          Track individuals who have completed an apprenticeship to determine effective program strategies.

•          Support partnerships with institutions of higher education and businesses to provide transferable                credit to apprentices.

•          Support apprenticeships in underserved or rural communities.

The Early Educators Apprenticeship Act also removes regulatory burdens restricting the presence of home-based child care providers in rural areas.

Click here to learn more about the bill. 

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