The Importance of Quality Childcare in New Jersey
For our special series, Right from the Start NJ, Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Jennifer Santana, President of Coalition of Infant/Toddler Educators and Early Head Start Manager for Center for Family Resources, to discuss the availability and affordability of quality childcare in New Jersey, the importance of continuity of care for infants and the challenges childcare workers face in the state.
"Steve Adubato here. This segment is part of our Right From the Start NJ public awareness campaign about what the needs are of our infants and toddlers from birth... actually prenatal to three, and we continue a series of discussions, in this case, with Jennifer Santana, who is the President, Coalition of Infant/Toddler Educators, Early Head Start Manager for Center for Family Resources. By the way, what is the Center for Family Resources? We're a Head Start - Early Head Start program. So where you have federal funding to provide child care and services to families from birth to five. What's the difference between Head Start and Early Head Start? So Early Head Start is working with the families prenatally to three years of age anywhere in a home visiting setting or in a child care setting, and then Head Start is preschool from three to five years old, before they go to kindergarten. Jennifer, you joined us as part of our Right From the Start NJ forum with eight top experts, caregivers, professionals in the field. And one of the issues you brought up that I want to talk about here is the way we train, if you will, professional development for child care workers. Why is that an issue as it relates to Right From the Start NJ? So we know... we talked all about how important those early years are, the birth to three years, and we need to make sure that the people who are caring for young children when they're not at home with their parents are educated on specifically how to care for infants and toddlers. It's not the same as working with preschoolers or kindergarten or older children. Why is it different? Because it's relationship based. It's all about the relationships that they form with their caregiver. They need to know that they have a special person that takes care of them during the day when they're away from their families. What is the tr... what is the requirement right now for that training? Right now, basic licensing standards, there really isn't any requirements. What? A high school diploma... not even really. You can come in and work with infants and toddlers. But... Why would it be...? No disrespect to those who have those credentials. Mm hmm. But why wouldn't it be higher? Why wouldn't we ask more? We should be asking more. But right now, I don't know... the importance isn't... people don't see the importance of the early years and that caregivers need to know the right..."