Three local organizations joining forces to better early childhood centers

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The education requirements for childcare teachers in Texas consist of a high school diploma and eight hours of training. In comparison to the training requirements of pet groomers, cosmetologists and many others, some argue standards need to be raised significantly. 
“The quality of child care across Texas is extremely low, which limits a child’s chances for strong brain development in that setting. While the quality is low, the prices are high for parents,” said Dr. Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK. “Businesses struggle when their employees cannot find affordable, stable child care options. Future businesses will struggle if they do not have a skilled workforce, and signs are pointing to a potential shortage in that area. If we want children to have a strong start to life – and if we want our economy to stay vibrant – Lubbock and the state of Texas must improve access to affordable, quality child care.”  
That mission brought the United Way, Children at Risk and Workforce Solutions together Tuesday.
“Lubbock misses out on economic gains because only 4 percent of all childcare providers are certified quality through the Rising Star program,” Carolyn Simpson, director for Success by 6 at United Way, said.
The Texas Rising Star is a rating system put in place to ensure that childcare provider meet higher quality standards. From birth through age 3, a child’s brain is forming and building a basis that will impact the child’s future learning, health and behaviors. Meanwhile, the quality of care remains low, but the price for childcare remains incredibly high for parents. 
“For the average family in Lubbock, it cost $12,000 a year to care for an infant and a toddler, which takes up an average families income of about a quarter of their income. Businesses also struggle, when their employees can’t access affordable quality childcare options, and future business will struggle if they don’t have the skilled workforce that they’re gonna need to keep our economy going,” Shay Everitt, director of Early Childhood Education Initiatives for CHILDREN AT RISK, said.
But, there are certain issues that must be addressed first.
“Most of the childcare teachers are probably living in poverty, if they’re depending on that as their primary job. We set a pervading wage for the area. The pervading wage for Lubbock is $12.80. And I’m going to say that most of our childcare works don’t get paid that much for their help, so that’s our first obstacle,” Martin Aguirre, CEO of Workforce Solutions South Plains, said.
To reach these goals of increasing the number of childcare providers with quality certifications, building a path toward school readiness and ensuring sufficient training for childcare teachers, it will take the work of these organizations, our community and all parents in the City of Lubbock.

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