How public preschool can help and how to make sure it doesn’t hurt

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Child care centers have not been able to raise wages much because most parents cannot afford to pay more than they already do. The bill states that states must use the grants to pay daycare workers and kindergarten teachers “a living wage” (although it does not specify what that is), and a wage equivalent to that. a primary school teacher with the same diploma. . Today, kindergarten teachers earn more than double what preschool teachers earn. Researchers say it’s unclear whether federal grants will be enough to match this and whether states will agree to pay – states have a choice to opt out.

Subsidized child care and education benefits children in low-income families the most, and many studies find that the long-term benefits outweigh the costs. This is not necessarily true for children from high income families. Since programs open to all children cost considerably more, targeted programs are potentially more cost effective.

Universal programs have other advantages, however. The gains for poor children are much greater when preschools are open to all children, discovered Elizabeth Cascio, an economist who studies education and social policy in Dartmouth. Families appear to be more invested in universal programs and they are held to higher standards.

Pre-K may have weaker benefits for more privileged children, but middle-class children still show improvements, according to long-term research on Tulsa’s pre-K program by William T. Gormley, professor. of public policy in Georgetown.

The Democrats’ plan would make pre-K universal, and by helping parents pay for child care, it could also make infant and toddler care less separated. It requires states to expand access. Federal money must be spent in disadvantaged communities, and the rights of middle-class and wealthy families come later. It’s a thoughtful approach, Prof Fuller said, but if the plan does not achieve consistent quality in all communities, it could “reinforce, not reduce, vast disparities in early childhood development,” he said. he declared.

Nurseries cost more to care for infants and toddlers than those aged 3 and 4. Providing public kindergarten without subsidizing these young children can end up diverting money from child care. These centers may then not be able to care for as many younger children, according to research by Jessica H. Brown, an economist at the University of South Carolina, on the New York City program. .

The Democrats’ plan solves that problem by allowing daycare centers to serve both preschoolers and younger children, so they don’t lose the funds that come with those 3s and 4. A greater risk, according to them. researchers, is that if the program is not extended after it expires in six years, the child care industry could be left with no money to support the changes already made.

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