Child care regulations go beyond a mere legal document — they set a state’s (or in this case, a District’s) baseline expectations for any center or home serving children. Last year, the District of Columbia became the first in the nation to require an associate’s degree for all lead teachers in child development centers, communicating the city’s commitment to developing the knowledge and skills of infant and toddler educators and enhancing learning environments for children. But a recent decision by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), covered in this article from the Washington Post (“Child-care workers in D.C. would get more time for degree requirements”), adds an important component to this story. Announcing its intentions to allot more time for teachers to meet this important milestone (i.e., moving the requirement effective date from 2020 to 2023), the city’s commitment remains firm but now acknowledges — and allays — the concerns of many teachers and center directors who have been doing this work for years.
Earning a degree requires a great deal of time, especially for those currently working in the field. However, even with this change, the degree requirement still has its detractors. As I’ve written before, brain science and research on the quality of care in child care settings point time and time again to the importance of teacher-child interactions and the value of a skilled and knowledgeable teacher.
Critics rightly say this change requires support and better compensation, both of which the District is working to address. Through its new partnership with Trinity University, OSSE continues to expand its supports for teachers to enroll in and pay for their degrees. To ensure that higher credentials result in higher pay, the DC Council has proposed two laws — the BEGIn Act and the Infant/Toddler and Developmental Services Act — which would create a salary scale for teachers and require the District to fund this scale. Our Birth-to-Three Policy Alliance will continue to work with lawmakers to make this a reality, advancing our efforts until infant and toddler teachers earn the same salaries as their counterparts in pre-Kindergarten through 12th-grade education.
Learn more about these efforts by catching up on my latest blog posts: