WXXI AM News

Summit looks at early childhood workforce

Apr 24, 2018

Mayor Lovely Warren, in partnership with the National League of Cities (NLC), hosted a conference Tuesday exploring many of the issues facing early childhood workers.

In her opening speech, Warren said pay is the biggest obstacle the industry is facing.

"We are asking many of our childcare providers and childcare workers to take care of other people’s children when they have a hard time taking care of their own."

Tonja Rucker, Program Director for Early Childhood Success with NLC, and says the organization has been working with Rochester for about 10 years.

Rucker says early childcare is critical to cities nationwide.

"One of the major issues that pressing families today is childcare and quality childcare. So when parents are working, where are their kids? Are they in quality early learning settings where they're learning, their development has been optimized, and parents can feel like their parents are safe."

Valora Washington was the keynote speaker and is the CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition. She says collaboration is an important part of moving forward and improving this field.

"People have been operating in silos, so what’s exciting about this summit, is you have many organizations from different sectors coming together for a common purpose. Which is to both increase early childhood education, and to make sure that it’s of high quality."

She also spoke on investing in teachers more.

"The teacher, and the teacher qualification really is the secret sauce, how that teacher works with the children and the families, there’s no substitute for that."

The summit was the culminating event of a larger effort, the Cities Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce project has taken place over the last 18 months.