Advocacy Update: August 16, 2019
Senate Bill 212 Sections 2 through 6 (formerly House Bill 882)
Why this legislation is so harmful to licensed private child care providers:
Part II. Section 2.(a) of S212 – Establishes new requirements for lead teachers in child care centers. Requires all lead teachers in child care centers to have at least an “Infant-Toddler” or “Preschool” Certificate, replacing the current Early Childhood Credential. (Obtaining either of the required Certificates means taking 5 community college classes/15 credit hours.) This section means that our high-performing teachers who parents and children know and love will have to take 5 more college course to keep their jobs. It also means there will be even fewer teachers in the market or pipeline that meet the requirements at a time when providers are really struggling to find teachers who meet current requirements in order to meet government-mandated staff-child ratios.
Effective Jan. 1, 2020, Section 2.(a) also makes the Early Childhood Credential a pre-service requirement, meaning lead teachers cannot be hired without already having it. This will exacerbate our severe teacher shortage.
Part II. Section 3.(a) of S212 – Gives the Administration’s Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) the sole authority to “define the knowledge requirements” and establish “expected competencies” for early childhood educators. This provision would eliminate a role for the Child Care Commission, which is the rulemaking body that includes representation for providers (child care centers), parents, citizens, “early childhood specialists,” and even a pediatrician and pastor. (The governor and legislators make appointments to the Commission.) Considering the potential impact on child care costs and access/capacity for families, all of this decision-making authority should NOT rest with the regulators and the Executive Branch/Administration with no system for checks and balance.
Part II. Section 4. of S212 – Says DCDEE shall develop and implement a program to incentivize (not provide) higher teacher education and compensation levels. It explains that DCDEE will do this by providing “subsidy payment enhancements to child care programs that use a salary scale and only employ lead teachers who have obtained a minimum of an associate degree in child development or a related field.” First, there is no funding to support increased compensation for teachers in this Section or any other Section of this bill. Second, the way the bill is currently written, these so-called “subsidy payment enhancements” would ONLY apply to certain programs that ONLY employ lead teachers with at least an Associate’s degree and use a salary scale. (Who would set the salary scale if not the employers/owners/operators of these private centers? Where are all of these teachers with Associate’s degrees going to come from? If these “subsidy payment enhancements” are provided through the Subsidized Child Care programs, then where is the additional revenue going to come from to increase compensation for teachers with degrees in centers that do not participate in the Subsidy program?)
Part II. Section 5.(a) of S212 – Directs DCDEE to do a feasibility and cost study to develop a pilot program to treat infant-toddler (0-3) classrooms like NC Pre-K classrooms – with all of the additional requirements, rules and regulations, including “teachers with degrees, the use of curriculum and formative assessments, improved student-teacher ratios” and more. Infant care in North Carolina already costs more than tuition at a state college/university – costs will skyrocket even higher if they are treated like “NC Pre-K” (4-year-old) classrooms and required to have teachers with 4-year degrees/Bachelor’s degrees.