When municipal leaders support the early childhood workforce, they ensure the youngest citizens have high-quality early experiences that lead to improved outcomes later in life.
In May, the National League of Cities hosted local leaders from 13 cities for an early childhood workforce roundtable. Leaders gathered for the release of a new resource to increase awareness of the importance of the early childhood workforce that draws on the actions taken from the seven cities that participated in the Cities Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative. During this meeting, participants also heard from national early childhood and business experts about strategies local leaders can use to strengthen and improve the early childhood workforce.
Here are four key takeaways from the meeting:
Engage with the business community: The lack of affordable quality childcare is costing the economy $57 billion dollars annually, according to a recent report from ReadyNation. To address this economic impact at the local level, the Chamber of Commerce is beginning to view the early childhood workforce as part of the larger workforce development issue. When city leaders and business leaders work together to invest in and support the early childhood workforce, communities thrive.
Recognize trends: As the make-up of the economy and demographics in communities across the nation continue to evolve, city leaders must create policies that adapt to and reinforce a strong workforce including providing support for the early childhood workforce. City leaders can use these changes as an opportunity to look at the policies and practices already in place within their government and have the chance to reach out to other city departments for collaboration.
Frame your message: In order to create buy-in to support the early childhood workforce, it is important to ensure your message is clear, succinct and resonates with your targeted audience. Supporting the early childhood workforce is crucial to a child’s development and is closely tied to later success in life. With the right messaging strategy, stakeholders will know why investing in the early childhood workforce is worthy of their time.
Learn from other cities: At the meeting, the seven cities from the Cities Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce initiative were on hand to provide innovative strategies and actions they have taken to support the early childhood workforce. These actions along with advice, challenges and other resources for supporting the early childhood workforce can be found in the Cities Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce report.
Despite competing priorities, it is important that municipal leaders support promising policies and practices that lead to a fully prepared, well-compensated early childhood workforce. Municipal leaders working to professionalize and strengthen the early childhood workforce can ensure our children have the tools and resources they need to help cities thrive for generations to come.
NLC also hosted a webinar which featured components from the Cities Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce report and highlighted the successes around supporting the early childhood workforce in Hartford, Connecticut and Kansas City, Missouri.
The Cities Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce report can be found here. To learn more about NLC’s work with city leaders to support the early childhood workforce, please visit our website.
About the Author: Kathryn Shibuya is a senior associate for early childhood success in the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.