The election is a week behind us. Thanksgiving is a week away. The President-Elect is moving forward with his transition, and while we do not know what comes next for children and families, here is what we do know:
We know that support for early childhood education is high across the political, geographic, and demographic lines that divide us.
We know that we will work together to fight for what our children and families need.
We know that we will hold our government, at federal, state and community levels, accountable for delivering on the promise of early childhood education.
To that end, here are four things we, as advocates and Children's Champions, can do right now:
1. Remember Our Code.
Early childhood educators are bound by a professional code of ethics that fights bias and respects the dignity, worth and uniqueness of all individuals. Each and every day, in state government, advocacy organizations, schools, homes and early learning programs around the country, we have a powerful opportunity to impact the lens with which policymakers, as well as children and their families, approach the world. (Read the letter Rhian Evans Allvin sent to all NAEYC members the day after the election for more).
2. Prepare for Opportunities.
When NAEYC launched the Early Ed for President campaign in the Fall of 2015, we said we believed that all candidates could embrace early learning on the road to the White House. And they did. One of the first national ads released by now President-Elect Trump focused on the importance of child care to our nation's children, parents and economy. In Ohio, two ballot initiatives, in Cincinnati and Dayton, were passed to raise taxes to fund early childhood education. In California, a proposition that overturned two decades of English only education was passed, setting up investment in bilingual education that is inclusive of the early years and grades. (You can see more early childhood election results here). Equitable access to developmentally appropriate, high-quality early learning is a bipartisan issue and a moral agenda. We will hold elected officials at all levels responsible and accountable for delivering on the promise of child care and early childhood education - but we must be ready. Gather and plan within your states and communities, and stay tuned for more on how and when we can move this agenda forward together.
3. Take Action.
There will be much to do in the months and years to come, but you can start right now. The federal government is currently operating under a "Continuing Resolution" or "CR" that will likely fund the government through March 31, 2017. During this time, Congress will be working on the budget and appropriations, and they will be hearing from everyone on how they should spend their dollars. They need to hear from us, too. We have told them before, and we will tell them again: we need an increase of $1.2 billion in the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) in order to implement the new law and ensure that no more children lose their child care assistance. Reach out to your Senators and Representatives and tell them to invest in hard-working families and children who need high-quality child care to work and thrive.
4. Stay Informed and Engaged.
The work goes on. The implementation of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), new Head Start Performance Standards, and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) continues in all of your states and districts - and they need you, as stakeholders, to be involved. Don't forget to fight for what we already know: that when early childhood education is done right, the benefits last. And please save the date for NAEYC's 2017 Public Policy Forum, happening in Washington, DC from February 26 - 28. If you're not yet an NAEYC member, join today, so that you can be with us as we come together in a new year, in a new world.
Be kind and safe - and a Happy Thanksgiving to all.