Because we can’t take our Early Learning Nation Studio on the road during this time, stay tuned as ELN recaps Top Takeaways from important conversations, town halls, webinars and virtual events from the Early Learning field. Read them all andjoin the conversation! And visit our Early Learning Nation channel on YouTube for interviews with leaders from education, child development, business, politics and more.
The Hunt Institute’s President & CEO Javaid Siddiqi welcomed the audience, then handed it off to Dan Wuori, director of Early Learning, to moderate. Here are our top three takeaways from the event.
1. Early child care and education get bipartisan support. Many things are dividing us as a country, but there’s an opportunity for unity when it comes to early care and learning. Sarah Rittling, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, said, “Voters don’t necessarily go to the polls because of where candidates are on child care or early childhood education, but they certainly want a better tomorrow for their children.”
2. Accountability and equity are essential. Future administrations have a lot of work to do to deliver on these unifying ideals, especially since the shock of COVID-19 on our early childhood systems will cause long-term effects. “We didn’t have enough child care in this county to begin with,” Katie Hamm, vice president of the Center for American Progress, said. “If we think we can recover, vaccine or no vaccine, without saving the child care industry, we have another thing coming.”
However, the panelists expressed hope for a better future for all children if we use this moment as an opportunity for real change. Cemeré James, interim president and CEO at the National Black Child Development Institute, said, “There is a unifying conversation around young children; there’s also a need to challenge the way we talk about it so that we weave equity into the conversation much more comprehensively.”
3. Biden’s education plan is ambitious. The incoming administration shows signs of being prepared to get the country back on track. “There are many policies that the Trump administration put forward and implemented that were really harmful to young children, especially children of immigrants and Black children,” Hamm said. “I think the incoming administration has proposed the most ambitious agenda for young children that we’ve ever seen.” The comprehensive education agenda proposes improvements such as expansions in home visiting, child care, health care support for young children, an increase in wages for child care providers and more. “We’re talking huge systematic, comprehensive reform for zero to five child care.”
Early Learning Nation columnist Mark Swartz writes for and about nonprofit organizations. Author of the children's books Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, Lost Flamingo, Magpie Bridge and The Giant of the Flood as well as a few novels, he lives in Takoma Park, MD, with his wife and two children.