As the largest Head Start provider in the state, Children’s Friend is a loud voice in advocating for the importance of early childhood education. The years between birth and five are critical for brain development, and research has shown that high-quality preschool education gives children a strong start in life.
Children’s Friend has the infrastructure, the supportive work culture, and plenty of students enrolled in Head Start. Now we need Teachers.
According to the Bureau of Labor, the need for preschool teachers is projected to grow by 10% between 2016 and 2026, faster than the average for all other occupations. At the same time, fewer early childhood teachers are entering the workforce. The reasons for this are complex, but the results are clear: a shortage of early childhood teachers that is rising to a crisis level for childcare centers. Take a look at Indeed or any other job board for early childhood teacher job opportunities and you will find a list that is pages long.
Recruitment of teachers and teacher assistants is a priority at Children’s Friend. We continuously find ways to nurture and support our current staff as we strategize creative ways to grow talent. We are lucky to be hanging in there, thanks to our staff’s sheer commitment to our children and families. I was thrilled to hear the governor’s recent pledge to roll out universal pre-k to all of RI. It is exciting to envision a brighter future for all of RI’s children. At the same time, I am unsure how the state will accomplish this with the dwindling number of qualified early childhood teachers willing to enter or stay in the field.