THE KEY TO QUALITY EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION: WELL-PREPARED EARLY EDUCATORS
What happens during the first years of life has long-range implications. During those years the foundation of a child’s social-emotional, physical and intellectual development is established. And during those years the key to building a strong foundation is having stable, responsive, nurturing relationships and rich learning experiences.
Without question, families represent the most important relationships in a young child’s life. But for the vast majority of children, relationships with caregivers and early educators also play an essential role in their early learning and healthy development. Thus access to excellent child care is essential, and the quality of early care and education (ECE) programs is largely determined by the quality of providers (e.g., family child care providers, early childhood teachers, program directors, and center-based staff). As such, providing adequate preparation, training, compensation and support for those who care for and teach our youngest Californians has become a primary concern for policy makers, professional development and training providers, and the field of early care and education.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is committed to supporting the ECE workforce, in part, because of our members’ long-standing commitment to millions of parents of young children who rely on the child care system in order to participate in the workforce. SEIU is also committed to supporting the ECE workforce because we represent a critical, viable and growing workforce sector in its own right. And despite the essential role played by the ECE workforce – both in supporting working parents and in supporting young children – the field has long suffered from a lack of accessible, affordable training and professional development opportunities, and a lack of wages commensurate with their qualifications and responsibilities.
Launched in 2015, the SEIU Early Educator Training Center (SETC) represents a multi-faceted, comprehensive and nimble effort to strengthen the California ECE workforce. Our vision is to upgrade the status of the ECE field so as to mirror the kind of professionalism attained by other nearly all-female fields (e.g., teaching, nursing). In doing so, we aim to ensure that ECE workers can earn living wages and employers can rely on a fully qualified, fully effective workforce.
SEIU EARLY EDUCATOR TRAINING CENTER MISSION STATEMENT:
Our mission is to support home-based, center-based, and school-based early educators by providing affordable, accessible education and training opportunities. Our programs reflect both state and national training requirements, and offer the kinds of support needed to assure success. We are committed to working alongside ECE workers, employers, state and federal entities to create a strong foundation of preparedness for early educators and quality programs for children and their families. With this mission in mind, we are guided by three goals:
- Support the professional development of ECE professionals so they can satisfy increasing regulatory requirements, advance along an ECE career pathway, and improve child outcomes in early care and education settings;
- Provide vehicles through which ECE professionals can feel a sense of community, learn from and support each other, and work together to attain improved wages, better working conditions, and greater professional recognition.
- Identify and address training gaps by building partnerships with ECE training providers and institutions of higher education, bringing to bear additional resources (e.g., financial, policy, frontline worker input), and creating replicable and sustainable training models.