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Early childhood educators are vital

St. John's Nursery School students performing in their end-of-the-year circus program in May (file photo).
St. John's Nursery School students performing in their end-of-the-year circus program in May (file photo). (Heather Vecchioni)

I was pleased to see the discussion of the Child Development Associate credential in the recent commentary, “Early childhood care undervalued in Md.” (Nov. 12). Given the need for many new early childhood education workers, it is especially important to emphasize the importance of a recognized, portable and national credential that signals professional qualifications.

Preschool directors, child care centers and most of all parents want to know that their children are being cared for and educated by professionals who have both the academic and soft-skills training to foster young children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. If states like Maryland, where I live, are to expand access to preschool and childcare, they will need more qualified workers. Given high turnover in the field — which is not good for young children — it is especially important to raise the professional status of early childhood workers. That will require changes in policies and attitudes.

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First, all early childhood education workers need the national CDA credential. Second, as the op-ed notes, these workers need better pay to compensate them for their important, hard work and to keep them from leaving the field. Third, we as a society need to accord them the kind of professional status and public esteem that K-12 teachers have. As I said, they’re not “babysitters.”

Valora Washington,

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The writer is CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition.

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