Elliot’s Provocations unpacks current events in the early learning world and explores how we can chart a path to a future where all children can flourish. Regarding the title, if you’re not steeped in early childhood education (ECE) lingo, a “provocation” is the field’s term—taken from the Reggio-Emilia philosophy of early education—for offering someone the opportunity to engage with an idea.
We hope this monthly column does that: provocations are certainly not answers, but we hope Elliot’s Provocations helps you pause and consider concepts in a different way.
2021 was a momentous year for early childhood care & education. The field suffered blow after blow from COVID and then a knock-on staffing crisis; received nearly $50 billion in rescue funds to temporarily patch the gaping leaks; and is ending the year on the precipice of receiving enough public funds through the Build Back Better Act to finally become a stable and healthy sector.
Some companies are responding to the child care crisis in a somewhat predictable way: they’re looking after their own. Stories have been emerging about a proliferation of on-site child care programs; an NPR article a few weeks ago noted that
Child care has traditionally been a politically quiet sector. I don’t mean there hasn’t been resolute advocacy, but that has largely (though certainly not entirely) happened behind the scenes -- at least in the U.S. there isn’t a long history of major public actions such as protests and strikes.
The U.S. child care system falls deeper into crisis with every passing day. The sector is still missing 100,000 educators compared to before the pandemic, and amid a competitive labor market, the staffing recovery has slowed to a crawl.