Early Childhood & The Build Back Better Bill

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Hello to you all – I’m Kathy Pomer, Director of the Sheva Center, connecting with you from my home in Bryans Road, Maryland just south of Washington DC where President Biden just announced the new and improved Build Back Better plan which we are all crossing fingers and toes to get passed as soon as possible – maybe even sometime next week! Politics can be complicated but not when it comes to advocacy for early childhood education and families everywhere.

Here is what you need to know about the bill:

  •  We are so thrilled to learn that this new updated bill still includes $400 Billion for childcare and preschool.  This is only a little less that originally proposed.
  • The bill includes universal preschool for 3s and 4s, for 6 years- and we want to put emphasis on a key line assuring parental choice for where they get their childcare: “Importantly, parents will be able to send children to high-quality preschool in the setting of their choice – from public schools to child care providers to Head Start.”
  • This means that families who are currently in our care and those who wish to be will be supported by a government that knows that mixed delivery is the way to go to meet all needs. Wooo hoooo!
  • It also contains substantial funding to help families cover the costs of childcare, which will also last for six years. Under this policy, families making up to 250 percent of a state’s median income would not have to pay more than 7 percent of their annual income on childcare.

We are still analyzing the bill text, but already we can see, as well, investment in teacher compensation and efforts to raise the credentials of our educators.

The time to act is now- keep calling, writing, jamming those phone lines to your representatives to get this passed.

I’m going to make it simple. First, I’m going to ask you to find your representatives – ALL of them – and let them know that we need help now.

Why does this all matter? Well – without an investment in childcare for children ages 0-2, women will continue to drop out of the workforce at a staggering rate and more companies will face worker shortages. If there’s no pay parity, there will be no educators available to staff these programs. If there’s no mixed delivery, then these programs will be exclusively for public schools and will cause our centers to close permanently (programs for older children with larger group sizes and lower ratios bring in the profit that help subsidize infant and toddler care).

If you are looking for resources on mixed delivery, this podcast and video will help us understand why our schools must have this type of system or be shut out completely from the future of early childhood. Our current infrastructures cannot exist as is, and we need to be part of this change.

If you’re worried about what happens to the “Jewish” in our schools with mixed delivery, check out the amazing Emily Hausman, director of Early Childhood Education at the Riverdale Y, a JCC in the Riverdale Neighborhood of the Bronx, pictured with NYC Council Member Eric Dinowitz above.

Emily’s school receives public monies to run three- and four-year old programs. This means that she provides a high-quality education, rooted in Jewish values, that is affordable (free!) for families. Emily has been spreading the word about the positive possibilities of a mixed delivery system, letting her fellow Jewish educators that this is a good thing and that we need to stand up for it. By being smart and nimble about the ways we create our Jewish community, we can make this the system of our future.

Please – call or write now, and ask everyone in your network to do the same. It makes a difference and it is the only way!!

AND – if you’re looking for another quick action step – take a look at the attached flyer – print it out and share with your educators and colleagues, with families and with friends – it takes less than a minute to scan the QR code and let Congress know that we all support this important bill.

Thank you on behalf of our field – on behalf of our families – on behalf of our educators – and most importantly, on behalf of our children and all future generations.

Shabbat Shalom,
Kathy and The Sheva Center Team