Pre­mium placed on education for D.C.’s child-care work­force

The Washington Post Sunday - - METRO - BY MICHAEL ALI­SON CHAN­DLER

Hun­dreds of child-care work­ers in the Dis­trict are head­ing back to school to meet new education re­quire­ments that are among the high­est in the na­tion.

Mean­while, 17-year old Ty­onna Stin­nie, an as­pir­ing early child­hood teacher, grad­u­ated from Cap­i­tal City Public Char­ter School in June with a head start.

Along with her diploma, she earned a Child Devel­op­ment As­so­ciate (CDA) cer­tifi­cate, con­sid­ered a base­line cre­den­tial in the field and one many child-care work­ers lack.

She took part in a new city­funded ca­reer and tech­ni­cal education pro­gram called “First Step” that aims to build a pipe­line of highly trained work­ers who can help trans­form the qual- ity of care and education for the Dis­trict’s youngest learn­ers.

“We have an op­por­tu­nity un­like any other place in the coun­try,” D.C. State Su­per­in­ten­dent of Education Hanseul Kang said.

While most states and ci­ties are fo­cus­ing scarce early education re­sources on ex­pand­ing ac­cess to public prekinder­garten pro­grams, she said, the Dis­trict has a public preschool pro­gram avail­able to all 3- and 4-year-olds and is now look­ing to in­vest in qual­ity pro­grams for in­fants and tod­dlers.

A cen­tral part of that mis­sion is im­prov­ing the skills of child­care work­ers, many of whom are paid min­i­mum wage and have lit­tle more than a high school de­gree. Re­searchers say the job of teach­ing chil­dren un­der age 3 — a time when their brains are

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