A new report on President Joe Biden's free universal pre-school plan cautions lawmakers to take a careful approach in implementing the program as it could put some home-based providers, as well as the families who prefer these facilities, at a disadvantage.
The joint report, compiled by Home Grown and the National Institute for Early Education Research, revealed that home-based providers could be left out if they are not part of the free universal pre-school plan. Natalie Renew, director of Home Grown, which supports home-based child care, said that if these providers also seek out funding from the initiative to keep their pre-school afloat, they might have to shift their operations and cut out some of the services they provide for toddlers and infants.
However, some parents prefer home-based providers because it allows siblings to join the same program, which isn't usually applicable in typical pre-schools. Such a setup also brings diversity to the workforce that appeals to parents who want the people looking after their children to have the same culture or speak the same language.
Publicly-funded pre-school facilities also need to meet requirements, including the size of the site and its hours of instruction, which cannot be matched by a provider who is caring for someone's children in the living room or house. Additionally, some states have training requirements in child development for pre-school teachers, but the report stated more than 50 percent of home-based providers are not college-educated.
"[Biden's plan] doesn't work if we turn every family child care provider into a teeny tiny center," Renew said.
The Universal Pre-School Plan Coverage
The president proposes that every child in America under three years old should attend a publicly-funded pre-K facility regardless of their income class, which could benefit five million kids every year and save the average cost of $13,000 in childcare for parents.
Currently, only wealthy families could afford to send their children to facilities that provide a high-quality curriculum that aligns with every developmental stage. While the U.S. has a Head Start program for the most vulnerable children in the country, studies have shown that its curriculum could not be considered high-quality or a mix of play-based and academic learning.
Biden's proposal has yet to be divulged in detail, but these publicly-funded pre-K facilities will likely be housed in public schools. Also, under this program, instructors or facilitators at the universal pre-school sites will be paid the same wages as K-12 teachers if they have such qualifications. For many states, gaps in these wages and even qualifications are quite evident.
Tax Increase to Fund this Plan
Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz said that Biden's American Families Plan is a ploy to "get everyone addicted to the sugar," but it would be costly for taxpayers.
Biden's administration has set the cost of the universal pre-school plan at $1.8 trillion, and if it passes, the initiative aims to create partnerships with various states, organizations, and businesses. The president said he would impose tax increases to fund this plan as he wants Congress to spend $200 billion for the implementation.
However, CNN reported that it had gotten little attention among the lawmakers compared to the infrastructure investments that the administration has also released.
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