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Senator Begich Introduces New Legislation Supporting the Early Care and Education Workforce

Washington, D.C. -- On Thursday in Washington D.C. Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) introduced three new bills supporting those working in the field of early care and education. The new legislation was introduced as a package designed to address access, quality and affordability in early education programs.

"The payoff is clear. Every dollar invested in early education programs today returns 16 dollars in better outcomes for individuals, families and communities," Begich said. "You can't find a better investment and return than this -- and all of us benefit when our kids have the tools they need to succeed."

Begich also detailed the legislation at his recent annual address to the Alaska State Legislature describing the need to prepare Alaska's young people now for the jobs and opportunities of the future.

"One snowy night about a month ago, I met with about 50 strongly committed Alaska educators to talk about how to improve our schools and prepare our students for the competitive 21st century economy," Begich told Alaska legislators, referring to a Town Hall for early educators thread co-hosted with the Senator in February.

Begich introduced three bills, including legislation that calls for:

  • Increasing the child care tax credit so more parents can afford to put their children in quality early learning programs; (Tax Relief for Early Educators Act)
  • Creating a new student loan forgiveness program for graduates of associate's or bachelor's programs in early education. It provides needed relief for early educators and encourages people to work with children through age five. (Preparing and Reinvesting in Early Education Act)
  • Using grant incentives to help small and medium companies establish onsite or near-site childcare programs. (The Child Care Public-Private Partnership Act)

7,300 early educators make up the early care and education workforce in Alaska.  The workforce includes people working at licensed child care centers, family child care homes and group homes, Head Start, private and public preschools and pre-kindergarten, infant learning programs and other early childhood settings. This workforce cares for over 23,000 children that are in a child care setting and through these services, allows over 32,000 Alaska residents to join the workforce. At the same time, early educators' wages are among the lowest in Alaska's economy.

"Parents should have access to affordable, high-quality care and learning services, early childhood educators should have livable wages and benefits, and businesses will be more productive when children of the employees are well-taken care of," Begich said.

"This legislation is about providing more access to child care for working families and supporting the professionals who work in early childhood," said Stephanie Berglund, the CEO of thread, Alaska's Child Care Resource & Referral Network. "Alaska's children need a champion now more than ever as working families are facing tough choices in finding and affording quality child care. By introducing these bills, Senator Begich is that champion."

 


 


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