ANCHORAGE, AK – The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies or NACCRRA released its We Can Do Better 2011 update earlier this year, ranking state child care centers nationwide. The report ranks states on ten program requirements and five oversight benchmarks. The State of Alaska’s score, according to the report, is a 72 out of a possible 150 (48 percent) – a failing grade in any classroom – and is ranked 43 out of the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Defense.
While Alaska was noted as having several areas of strength including health and safety standards, unannounced inspections and a comprehensive background check on early educators working with children, there is room for improvement.
“Alaska can do more to support professional advancement of the 7,300 early educators that make up the early care and education workforce, whether it is through training and education support or advocating for higher wages” says Stephanie Berglund CEO of thread, Alaska’s statewide Child Care Resource and Referral Network and a member of NACCRRA.
The report makes recommendations for improvements in Alaska, including increasing the education requirements for both child care center directors and those who work with children.
“Investing more in professional development opportunities along with providing a livable wage for the early care and education workforce could lay the groundwork for increasing the quality of child care in Alaska. Research has shown early educators’ training and education is one of the highest indicators of quality care,” says Berglund.
“Early educators would be motivated to pursue more training and advanced degrees if they could obtain a better job and/or increase their salary as a result,” she added.
thread supports increased public investment in early care and education programs to address NACCRRA’s report recommendations. These include improving the State of Alaska’s capacity to increase child care inspections, better promotion of national child care accreditation standards and providing more information online, including inspection and complaint results.
Alaska residents agree. An economic impact study of early care and learning services in Alaska by The McDowell Group, says urban and rural residents alike think public funding for early care and learning in Alaska is important, with 87 percent of households supporting state government to provide financial support for these services.
“We know there is a huge gap in the well-being of children between states that have made additional public investments in quality child care initiatives and those that have not,” Berglund says. “Research shows that when states have made significant investments in early care and education services, children are more likely to be healthy, graduate from high school and be successful later in life.”
For more information about NACCRRA or the We Can Do Better: 2011 Update: NACCRRA's Ranking of State Child Care Center Regulation and Oversight, please visit www.naccrra.org. Click here for the complete 2011 Update: Economic Impact of Early Care and Learning Services in Alaska report.