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New Support for Early Education Includes Wage Incentives, Cribs
Governor Parnell signed into law three budget bills for fiscal year 2013 that include support for early education in Alaska, including a wage incentive program for early educators, funding to help child care providers replace outdated cribs and support for Anchorage Imagination Library.
"These new investments in the early childhood workforce, which were approved by the Governor, represent the leadership of those in the legislature and their commitment to quality early care and learning in Alaska," said Stephanie Berglund, thread's CEO.
“thread applauds Senator Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) and Senator Bettye Davis (D-Anchorage), who helped champion this funding, along with the Anchorage caucus, and their commitment to Alaska’s children and working families,” said Berglund.
“Affordable, quality child care is critical for healthy families,” said Sen. Wielechowski. "This will help improve the quality of child care for Alaskan working families.”
thread will receive $1 million in funding, over three years to support the Alaska SEED ROOTS Awards and wage increases for early educators in Anchorage. Low wages are impacting Alaska's ability to recruit and retain professionals in the field of early education. The level of education and the consistent relationship between an early educator and the children they care for are both strong indicators of quality child care.
The Alaska SEED ROOTS Awards are wage stipends based on the level of education an early childhood professional has reached on the SEED Registry – a database documenting early educators’ professional accomplishments following an early childhood career ladder. Alaska has been rated in the bottom ten states for quality of child care. At the same time, Alaska has a 46% turnover rate of child care workers and many child care programs are unable to meet the minimum staff qualifications. Educated teachers and caregivers are the leading indicators of quality.
“Funding for the Alaska SEED ROOTS Awards is an investment to improve the level of quality education and raise the wages of the early childhood workforce in Alaska,” said Berglund.
thread will also receive funding for $75,000 to place cribs meeting the new national safety standards in licensed early care and education programs in Anchorage.
On December 15, 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously to approve new mandatory crib standards, establishing the most stringent crib safety standards in the world. In June of 2011, all importers, distributors, manufacturers, and retailers could only offer cribs meeting the CPSC's new and improved full-size and non-full-size crib standards.
Starting on December 28, 2012, child care facilities, including family child care homes and infant Head Start centers, as well as places of public accommodation, such as hotels and motels, and rental companies must use only cribs that comply with the new crib standards.
Some of the new mandatory rules for cribs include: (1) stopping the manufacture and sale of dangerous, traditional drop-side cribs; (2) strengthening mattress supports and crib slats; (3) requiring crib hardware to be more durable; and (4) making safety testing more rigorous. CPSC has recalled more than 11 million dangerous cribs since 2007. Drop-side cribs with detaching side rails were associated with at least 32 infant suffocation and strangulation deaths since 2000. Additional deaths have occurred due to faulty or defective crib hardware. The new standards aim to prevent these tragedies and keep children safer in their cribs.
thread is also the fiscal sponsor of the Anchorage Imagination Library, which will receive $15,000 to support putting new books in the hands of children each month.
"These investments are a huge step toward creating the best early childhood workforce in Alaska," said Berglund. "These are the professionals taking care of our children and Alaska's future leaders."
Visit the Governor's website for more detailed infomration on the Alaska State Budget.
For more information on crib safety and the most up-to-date information on how to create a safe sleep environment for your baby, visit CPSC's crib information center at: www.cpsc.gov/cribs
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