Changes in Access to NJ's Early Childhood Care
As part of the Right from the Start NJ series, Steve Adubato speaks with Bonnie Eggenburg, Vice President, Gateway Early Head Start and Head Start Program, about the comprehensive services her organization provides families, the affordability of quality childcare and how she believes access to early childhood care is changing.
"We're now joined by Bonnie Eggenburg, Vice President, Gateway Early Head Start, and Head Start Program. Bonnie, thank you for joining us. We appreciate it. This is part of our Right From the Start NJ initiative. I met you recently at a forum we did together with the folks at Advocates for Children of New Jersey. We we're talking about the child care environment. One of the things you talk a lot about is caregivers' pay. Who are we talking about? And how bad is the pay? The pay is not a living wage. It doesn't even come close to being a living wage. If you're talking about teachers of children from zero to three, you're talking about pay ranging anywhere from minimum wage to maybe 12 dollars an hour on the average. So you're talking about people who are... who are actually having to take access to resources, and are living in poverty. Okay but play this out for a second. And by the way, check out our website throughout all of these segments as part of this ongoing series, Right From the Start NJ, you look at our website, there's important information, educational information, education... information for parents, advocacy information, a whole range of important information, but in that spirit, go back to the kids. We're talking about birth to three? Yes. If that's the problem with caregivers, and their pay? Mm hmm. Or lack thereof. What impact does it have on those infants and toddlers? Well there tends to be a lot of turnover in that zero to three range in terms of teachers, because teachers will come in, they'll get the training that they need to be excellent teachers, but they also recognize they can't support a family on that. So a year later, maybe less, they'll leave for something that pays better. And at that age... That child loses that teacher? Loses that teacher. Then what? And that interrupts that bonding that happens that's so important at that early age. Children need to feel secure and they need to feel safe. And when they have that, then they're able to actually grow, develop, and learn. Without that, with that lack of continuity, that becomes a problem. You know, as you're talking about this, you know Bonnie, I realize that so much of this for parents watching our Right From the Start NJ series, they're asking, "So what do I do?" Part of what you and your organization are all about is to give advice to parents. Mm hmm. Talk about that. Well I would say in terms of trying to support quality..."