Even the youngest Americans will have financial support if President Joseph Biden has his way.
He hopes to provide universal preschool.
The president is expected to call for a system to provide free, high-quality, accessible preschool care to all three- and four-year-old children. He wants to work with states in a national partnership. The move is expected to benefit five million children and save the average family $13,000, when fully implemented.
The historic $200 billion investment will prioritize high-need areas. The goal is to enable communities and families to choose the settings that work best for them. The Biden plan also seeks to ensure that all publicly-funded pre-schools are high-quality, with low student-to-teacher ratios, high-quality and developmentally appropriate curriculum and supportive classroom environments that are inclusive for all students.
As part of the proposal, the president is seeking to leverage tuition-free community college and teacher scholarships to support those who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree or another credential that supports their work as an educator or to become an early childhood educator. Educators will also receive job-embedded coaching, professional development and wages that reflect the importance of their work.
As part of the American Families Plan, all employees participating in pre-K programs and headstart will earn at least $15 per hour. Those with comparable qualifications will receive compensation commensurate with that of kindergarten teachers.
The inclusion of such provisions come as child care workers are struggling to get by. The median wage for child care workers in 2019 was $11.65 an hour, according to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. With the pandemic, thousands of child care workers have left the labor force.
These investments will give American children a head start and pave the way for the best educated generation in US history, according to the White House.
Research shows children who attend pre-K are more likely to take honors classes and less likely to repeat a grade. But many children across the country do not have access to high quality pre-school programs. The challenges are even greater for children of color and in low-income communities. Another study shows low-income children who attend universal programs do better in math and reading as late as eighth grade.
A White House official told CBS that part of the reason behind the effort was to “invest” in future generations and to help compete with rivals like China.