High Quality, Affordable Childcare
With nearly 300,000 children under age six in Tennessee having all available parents in the workforce, the vast majority of our state’s infants, toddlers and preschoolers are spending significant time in paid child care. For working parents, affordable child care enables them to be productive at work and maintain family economic stability. For children, depending on program quality, child care can either advance or impede early learning and, in turn, future education and workforce success.
The opportunity at hand, then, is to ensure child care settings are of sufficiently high quality to promote meaningful early learning. Especially for children from disadvantaged families who start falling behind their more advantaged peers as early as 6 months of age, high quality child care can be an early education game changer.
Regrettably, Tennessee’s current child care policies and public investment don’t support high quality. The good news is, there are unused and underutilized resources available, and demonstrated public returns on investment as high as $16 for every $1 spent on quality early care and education. The time and price are right for Tennessee to re-imagine its child care system as a cost-effective early education strategy.
Our priorities for improving childcare quality and affordability:
TQEE recommends a full examination and restructuring of Tennessee’s childcare system to provide more high quality, affordable and accessible options for Tennessee’s working families. Considerations include:
- Establishing high standards for quality teaching and learning, with a focus on learning outcomes;
- Improving strategies for training/education, recruitment, retention and professional development of high quality teachers;
- Adjusting state reimbursement rates so they adequately cover the costs of quality; and
- Maximizing state and federal childcare funding streams so more low-income working families can send their children to high quality childcare.