DO WHAT'S BEST FOR CHILDREN
1.) ADVANCE THE USE OF DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE PRACTICES.
Play is the work of childhood and an avenue for learning at all ages. PAEYC supports a paradigm shift that acknowledges the role of play in children’s learning and development. To accelerate this shift, PAEYC calls on early childhood teachers and administrators (for children from birth through grade four) to implement the following best practices for play including:
- providing abundant and active exploration opportunities through hands-on activities;
- connecting new concepts to what children already know;
- engaging in projects that connect learning in multiple subjects;
- supporting social and emotional development along with physical and mental health;
- offering experiences that stretch thinking and provide challenges; and
- providing time to talk about ideas and questions as well as share new knowledge.
An initiative of PAEYC, the Playful Pittsburgh Collaborative supports these practices beyond the classroom by expanding regional opportunities for intergenerational play, as adults are gatekeepers to play opportunities.
2.) END EARLY CHILDHOOD SUSPENSIONS AND EXPULSIONS.
Children cannot learn if they are excluded from places of learning. PAEYC supports a system that provides interagency collaboration and resources so educators can respond in ways that are intentional, developmentally appropriate, culturallycompetent, gender responsive, and trauma informed. This includes increased access to mental and behavioral health professionals who have knowledge and training in child development, or specialize in working with infants or young children.
3.) MAKE INCLUSION THE NORM.
Infants, toddlers, and young children of all abilities have the right to inclusion in learning spaces, communities, and society. PAEYC supports early care and education providers intentionally promoting participation in all learning and social activities, combining children with disabilities alongside their typically developing peers, and utilizing individualized accommodations and modifications. Through evidence-based strategies that support and foster development and provide culturally competent experiences, early childhood teachers and administrators can facilitate an environment where children develop positive self-identity, a sense of belonging, and positive social relationships. Early inclusive experiences build the foundation for young children and their families to expect inclusion as the norm in future learning spaces and throughout society.
4.) INCREASE ACCESS TO HIGH QUALITY PRE-KINDERGARTEN (PRE-K) PROGRAMS.
Pennsylvania families below 300% of the federal poverty guidelines qualify for publicly funded Pre-K programs for three and four-year old children. However, due to limited funding, only 30% of eligible families have access to these programs. PAEYC supports increased state and federal investments to fully fund the Pre-K Counts and Head Start programs so all eligible families have access to high-quality, publicly funded Pre-K programs. PAEYC supports city and county policymakers’ efforts to allocate funding that would supplement state and federal sources.
5.) INCREASE ACCESS TO HIGH-QUALITY INFANT AND TODDLER CARE.
Research shows that critical periods of brain development occur during the first couple years of a child’s life. For instance, interactions and attachments with adult caregivers during this time can optimize the development of brain pathways for the visual and auditory senses, motor and language processing, higher cognitive functioning, and emotional regulation. PAEYC supports high-quality care and learning environments with responsive caregivers for all infants and toddlers. This can be achieved by making paid family leave available, and making investments in infant and toddler programs, including home visiting programs.
6.) PROVIDE RESOURCES FOR CHILD CARE PROVIDERS TO INCREASE AND MAINTAIN QUALITY.
High-quality child care programs can change the trajectory of a child’s future by providing them with the best opportunity to learn and reach their full potential. To facilitate child care programs at this level and pay for personnel, professional development, facilities, and classroom materials, administrators need consistent and diversified revenue streams. PAEYC supports increasing Pennsylvania’s Child Care Works reimbursement rates based on data that reflects the true cost of high-quality child care. Additionally, PAEYC supports action at the federal level by members of Congress to provide sufficient funding to states for this purpose.
7.) TRANSFORM THE EARLY CHILDHOOD PROFESSION.
Early care and education professionals are nation builders, responsible for raising tomorrow’s workforce and future leaders. PAEYC supports initiatives that will positively impact the public’s perception of these careers, and encourage talented and ambitious individuals to enter and remain in the profession. Some of these initiatives include: increased public investments that allow program administrators to offer competitive wages and benefits; career opportunities that provide support and professional growth; and financial rewards for continuing education and leadership development.
PAEYC also supports measures to make undergraduate and graduate academic programs specializing in early care and education careers more attractive and financially viable. This includes the addition of coursework in leadership, advocacy and civic engagement as core curriculum for early education students. Finally, PAEYC calls for innovative teacher apprenticeship and mentoring programs that offer ongoing learning throughout an individual’s first couple years in the field, along with practicum experience in all early childhood age groups (infant, toddler, Pre-K, and K-4 classrooms).
8.) ALIGN QUALITY RATINGS TO THE FACTORS THAT IMPROVE CHILD OUTCOMES THROUGH POSITIVE INTERACTIONS.
While the state Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is revising the Keystone STARS Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to acknowledge multiple evidence-based and strength-based measures of success, PAEYC supports three priority recommendations including:
- creating systems and setting standards that consider the unique services of home-based and after-school providers;
- considering experience and a record of quality professional development as supplements to degrees and professional credentials to provide flexibility for small programs; and
- simplifying the system for programs participating in a national accreditation program (e.g. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), or the Council on Accreditation, After School Programs) by recognizing these accreditations as equivalent to the highest level of Keystone STARS.
With these changes, PAEYC supports the regular dissemination of information to increase provider knowledge and understanding of how to improve childhood outcomes through positive interactions.
9.) LEVERAGE RESOURCES AND PARTNERSHIPS.
Many local and statewide organizations are uniquely positioned to assist early care and education programs with continuous quality improvement.
At the local level in the City of Pittsburgh, PAEYC supports the continued coordination of education, government, business, nonprofit, and philanthropy partners that offer technical assistance, funding and capital improvements, and professional development opportunities, so that programs can maintain or increase their financial sustainability.
At the state level, PAEYC supports the OCDEL and the PA Key and its Regional Keys seeking out opportunities to leverage resources and partnerships for professional development, mentoring, technical assistance, and for the use and improvement of data systems.