American Presidential candidate places ECEC firmly on the agenda in race for The Hill
United States Presidential Candidate Mike Bloomberg has raised international attention for his proposed policies in relation to early childhood education and care (ECEC).
Mr Bloomberg issued a statement recently, outlining his position in relation to the importance of early learning, and his belief that “it’s the president’s job to make children’s lives better, for their future, and for America’s.”
Citing research that shows that the most important phase of a child’s brain development happens before he or she turns five, he expressed bewilderment that currently, spending by the United States on early childhood education is among the lowest of developed countries.
Mr Bloomberg will focus on four pillars to improve the lives of working families, and of all children, he said:
- Improve the quality of childcare
- Make childcare more affordable
- Guarantee access to full-day preschool
- Provide at-home health care support to working families.
Raise the quality of child care
Should he be successful in securing the Presidency, Mr Bloomberg said he will improve the quality of childcare in the United States by supporting the creation of a nationally-recognised credential for early childhood professionals and starting an “Apprenticeship Degrees” initiative that will encourage professional development for home-based childcare providers.
Highlighting the importance of a living wage, Mr Bloomberg explained that the average current pay for a childcare worker in the United States is US$11.17 per hour (A$16.83). He vowed to “recognise the hard, important work of these professionals by raising the federal minimum wage to US$15/hr (A$ 22) and to study the creation of a refundable tax credit for early childhood teachers to boost earnings for the lowest-paid teachers.
He also promised to provide grants to states who close the salary and benefits gap between pre-K and kindergarten teachers in low-income areas. Finally, Mr Bloomberg said he will expand childcare options to areas not currently reached by using a place-based EITC to incentivise childcare businesses opening in underserved communities.
Make childcare more affordable
Acknowledging the “significant challenges” of affordable childcare for working parents, Mr Bloomberg said he will triple the number of children served by Early Head Start, a program which provides childcare to low-income infants and toddlers, and expand Head Start to reach more three to-five-year olds.
He also promised to “significantly boost” the percentage of families who receive childcare subsidies through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) to allow more low-income and middle-class parents to deduct the cost of childcare expenses.
Guarantee access to full-day preschool
Currently the United States has what Mr Bloomberg termed “a patchwork approach to early learning”, which he proposes to change by guaranteeing access to full-day preschool for all three- and four-year-olds, as well as incentivising cities and states to develop “innovative programs that help low-income children bridge any language gaps and prepare them for success in kindergarten.”
He also pledged to restore grants for states to reach the goal of universal access to pre-k and reward those that boost enrollment of low- to moderate-income students and increase the quality of programs.
Provide at-home health care support to working families
In an effort to improve the health of at-risk infants and children, Mr Bloomberg plans to increase the numbers of low-income families who receive free, voluntary nurse home visits via a funding boost for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. This program, he noted, has been shown to lower maternal mortality rates and increase the self-sufficiency of families down the road.
To learn more about Mr Bloomberg’s early childhood learning plan, please see here.