Helping Our Littlest Learners by Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce

Boost Wages with a Refundable Tax Credit Linked to Increased Credentials

Early childhood educators play one of the most important roles in our education system and economy. Research shows that 85% of core brain development happens by age three, making the early years of education critical for a child’s long-term success.

But for far too long, early childhood educators have been undervalued in Arkansas. A 2018 study by UAMS found that early childhood educators are significantly underpaid compared to K-12 teachers and other highly-trained professionals. The problem is so bad that 40% of early childhood educators surveyed were food insecure. They don’t always know where their next meal is coming from, causing many great teachers to leave the field.

Having poorly compensated educators, high turnover, and under-resourced programs hurts the quality of education and number of children our state can serve. It also makes it difficult for our state to recruit new businesses and retain good employees. Arkansas families are struggling to find affordable, high-quality early childhood education for their children, especially for infants and toddlers.

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families and the Invest Early Coalition have been working together to find innovative ways to help early childhood teachers and staff can earn a family-supporting wage and improve outcomes for children. For over 10 years, Louisiana’s successful School Readiness tax credits have helped the early childhood workforce support their families, earn higher credentials, and improve program quality.

Senator James Sturch has now introduced a bill that would do just that: Senate Bill 618, the Early Childhood Education Workforce Quality Incentive. SB618 would create a four-year pilot program to provide a tax incentive to qualifying early childhood educators, which increases as they earn higher levels of education and training.

Please see the infographic below to see how this bill would help our littlest learners by helping the educators who serve them. And tell your legislators to help keep great educators in the classroom and support SB618. Write them today to tell them why early childhood education matters to you and your community. 

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The Invest Early Coalition is a group of Arkansans who are committed to working together to improve education, health, and well-being for children during their most formative years (0-5). To join our Coalition, visit www.aradvocates.org/campaigns/invest-early, or contact Rebecca Zimmermann at (501) 371-9678; rzimmermann@aradvocates.org