It’s a Pivotal Time for Early Childhood Education
November 17, 2020
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more than 9,000 licensed child care providers across the state – and between 1,000 – 2,000 have already closed. With waves of staff leaving the field, the costs of implementing new safety precautions and enrollment down half of what it was pre-pandemic, the obstacles child care centers are facing are considerable.
But, while we know there are a lot of challenges in the field right now, we want to highlight the critical role that Early Childhood Education plays. Our early learning programs are solidly rooted in the mission of YWCA Minneapolis, working to eliminate racism and empower women every day.
Aiding Women’s Financial Independence
Child care was originally created to aid women in going back to work and attaining financial independence. Still today, it’s a critical component of economic stability in our community. In fact, the absence of reliable, affordable child care, is one of the largest influences of women leaving the workforce.
Building Brain Capacity Early
Studies have shown that the most critical point in brain development is in the early years, from newborn to age 3. During that time, we work with kids to offer experiences to enable their full capacity to learn. High-quality early learning programs positively impact children’s health, education and social-emotional capabilities across their lifetimes.
Encouraging Curiosity Over Fear and Examining Bias
A unique part of YWCA’s programming is our Anti-Bias Curriculum. Through this focus, we encourage children to celebrate and explore differences. Talking about differences creates a curiosity mindset versus a fear-based one. We also create a culture where teachers are asked to examine and address their own biases. Each of us walks into the classroom with our own set of experiences and perspectives; we understand how our biases influence the way we teach and how we interact with families. We believe this anti-bias work is critical in shifting the state’s educational outcomes for youth of color.
Developing a Diverse Workforce of Teachers
The child care industry has long had staffing shortages. Out of these concerns, our Workforce Development Program was created – to develop the next generation of Early Childhood Education staff and increase diversity in the field. This in turn positively impacts educational outcomes as children see their identities reflected in their teachers around them.
A Mirror to the Community
Early Childhood Education is a mirror to the community. Our families are in a heightened state of stress right now, and our Children’s Centers are rising to the challenge to support them. We are really proud of the staff who show up every day to assist families and provide stability to the community.
To accommodate families’ needs during the pandemic, we’ve added part-time child care options and distance-learning support. Early Childhood Education has been an essential part of YWCA Minneapolis for more than 45 years and we’ll continue to provide this vital service to our community through these challenging times.