Building Better Childhood Services
The long-awaited report on improving services for young children, "Quality 2000: Advancing Early Care and Education,'' is scheduled to be released this spring. The four-year effort has involved hundreds of early-childhood experts under the direction of Sharon Lynn Kagan, an associate director of the Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University.
Here is a preview of the document's eight recommendations:
- Expect high quality in all programs. Family child care and center-based programs must be designed for quality. They must use new technologies, new approaches, and new instructional arrangements to maximize each child's potential.
- Focus on results. Using all domains of development, clear results and expectations should be specified and used to guide individual planning for all 3- and 4-year-olds.
- Enlist parents and communities. All parents of young children should be involved in their children's programs. Such programs must see themselves as serving parents and families; businesses must provide policies that enable parents to become involved in their children's learning and early education.
- Credential all staff. All individuals working with children in early-childhood programs must have_or be actively in the process of obtaining_ credentials related to the position they hold or seek.
- Revamp training/preparation opportunities. All training for early-childhood positions will be child and family focused, reflecting and respecting cultural and linguistic diversity. All training will bear credit, lead to increased credentials and compensation, and equip individuals for diverse and advanced roles.
- License all programs. Ensure that all programs are licensed, eliminate legal exemptions, streamline licensing procedures, and provide incentives for improving facilities.
- Invest in quality. With support from public and private sectors, fund young children's early care and education at per-child levels commensurate with funding for elementary-age children; set aside 10 percent of the funds for professional and staff development; enhanced compensation; parent information and engagement; program accreditation; resource-and-referral services; evaluation, data collection, and research; planning; and licensing and facility enhancement.
- Govern early care and education rationally. In every community and state, establish or build upon mechanisms to carry out planning and governance and accountability roles outlined above.