We’re nearly three weeks in from the release of the Early Head Start – Child Care Partnership Round 2 Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), and we know many of you are thinking about your program design. Having the FOA in hand takes away the guesswork, as we now know the regional funding allocations, priorities, and the main differences from the Round 1 FOA.
Last month, the US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Education issued a timely report, High-Quality Early Learning Settings Depend on a High-Quality Workforce, Low Compensation Undermines Quality. The report stresses the importance of early learning and the science on early brain development – something those of you working with young children know and experience daily. A high-quality workforce is one of the keys to high-quality early learning experiences. The report highlights the glaring pay gap between child care, Head Start, and preschool teachers with their counterparts at public elementary schools.
For those of you applying for EHS-CCP Round 2 funds, how might you think about leveraging funds in light of the findings in the compensation report?
There are a few strategies you might want to consider. First, link compensation increases to the attainment of increased credentials. In Staffing Section 4.3 of the FOA, it specifically states:
ACF is particularly interested in professional development plans that include long-term strategies and support for staff and teachers’ progression along career pathways to higher credentials, tied to increased compensation, in addition to on-site coaching/mentoring/supervision.
As you build your proposal and address very important aspects such as professional development, be intentional about how it ties back to compensation.
Second, set reasonable, competitive salaries to attract and retain a high-quality workforce. If you are proposing new staff be hired to support EHS-CCP implementation – whether at child care partner sites or in existing EHS programs – be intentional about the competitiveness of wages and compensation. Look at the data in the report and consider local data to ensure that you’re closing the pay gap between child care and K-12 educators. When raising the bar on quality, also raise the bar for compensation.
The challenge of recruiting and retaining infant and toddler teachers with a CDA is significant. This is true for EHS-CCP, and true for the private sector as well. There are also costs associated with having to replace well trained CDA infant and toddler teachers. Rather than have to cover the expense of replacing qualified staff, pay salaries that help to retain staff that are moving up the career ladder. The benefits of attracting and retaining highly qualified staff extend not only to the staff person but also to the children and families that benefit from seamless, consistent relationships with program staff.
With limited funding and tight budgets, it can be challenging to address the many fiscal needs in any type of early care and education setting. Thinking strategically about how to use EHS-CCP funds won’t solve all of the fiscal challenges with providing high-quality care to children, but it will be an important step in the right direction!
Foundations for Families offers EHS-CCP grantees targeted technical assistance and strength-based coaching of key start-up staff. We have helped multiple organizations design, plan for, and draft successful proposals for the first round of EHS-CCP and plan to offer the same expertise for any new opportunities. Please be in touch with Amy Augenblick, Executive Director, at 703-599-4329 or Augenblick@foundationsforfamilies.com to learn about how we can support you and your program.