Early child care providers are bracing for a new law in 2017 that impacts staffing and could boost their costs.
Licensed early childcare programs that receive funding from the State Office of Early Childhood must implement new mandates for lead teachers, who are responsible for the overall classroom.
On July 1, 2017, half of all teachers in these programs must hold a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education.
Tracey Madden-Hennessey is with the YWCA in New Britain, “The situation is creating a perfect storm for providers."
New requirements July 1 for 396 state funded licensed Early Childcare programs including "School Readiness," "Child Day Care" "State Head Start Services" and "Smart Start".
"Providers are going to have a high percentage of their work force to have early childhood degrees and that makes it difficult for providers to pay people enough to attract individuals with those degrees and more training by the state and that's an additional expense," Madden-Hennessey added.
The state statute said half or more of designated lead teachers in each program must have one of the following: a current state Department Of Education certification, Bachelor's degree specific to an early childhood concentration, or a Bachelor's in any other field plus at least 12 credits in early childhood or child development and the early childhood teacher credential individual review route.
“The requirements for having teachers have bachelor's degrees in state supported programs are a real challenge for those programs as they aren't able to pay competitive wages," Merrill Gay told NBC Connecticut.
Gay is the director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, that fights for families to have reliable childcare, so parents can work and support their kids.
This new law will be tough too, according to Gay.
He cites a shortage of credentialed teachers and programs already dealing with loss of Care For Kids revenue.
“Programs are really having trouble paying a way they can retain bachelor's degrees they have now. And certainly don't have enough to attract new staff, so it will be a challenge. i suspect a move in the legislature to push back the deadline," Gay added.
Mother April Lussier is weighing in on the changes too.
“I would prefer for them to have a good education. My kids as well, for them to have a good education," Lussier said.
By 2020 all teachers must have a bachelor's in early childhood.
One state representative who has worked on this, says all issues should be revisited, even though changes were made with good intentions, but without an honest evaluation.
Each classroom must have one teacher and one assistant teacher for every group of twenty three and four year olds, and the same for every group of eight infants/toddlers under the age of three years old.