DO YOU REALLY NEED A DEGREE TO WORK IN DAY CARE?

Author:Boehm, Eric
Position::POLICY
 
FREE EXCERPT

TAKING CARE OF a child, wrote Meredith Walsh, a Washington, D.C., resident and mother to a 1-year-old daughter, takes patience and a sense of humor. "It does not require a college degree."

Working in D.C. day care, though, will require at least an associate's degree in early childhood education by 2020, if the city's Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) has its way. The mandate was approved by the entity in mid-2016 with little fanfare, but its decision to reconsider the timeline for implementation generated hundreds of pages of public comments from workers and parents like Walsh. That feedback was nearly unanimous in its opposition.

Jill Homan, whose 1-year-old daughter attends a day care program in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, is confused by the requirement. If workers lacking a college degree are a threat to children's safety, why let them continue in their current jobs until 2020? And if they're simply lacking a specific skill, why not train them immediately?

Instead, D.C. officials have talked about wanting to place the city on the forefront of "building the profession," meaning that this is the start of a national effort to turn day care centers into more highly professionalized and regulated operations. While Vermont and Pennsylvania have taken small steps in that...

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