Professor Nancy Hurlbut spoke to state lawmakers about the importance of early childhood education and the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created.
Hurlbut, chair of the Early Childhood Studies department, joined a panel at a virtual hearing of the California State Senate’s Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response.
The committee is a bipartisan group of state senators that review the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The members evaluate what is going well and what areas need to be improved as well as consider recommendations to prepare for a future pandemic.
During the February 17 hearing, Hurlbut also discussed the need for a qualified workforce. According to Hurlbut, a quality early childhood experience can close the achievement gap, reduce the need for special education, lower crime rates and contribute to an overall healthy lifestyle. She presented further data that for every dollar spent on early childhood, there are $7 to $10 in return.
“In order to have a quality early childhood experience, we need a qualified workforce,” she said. “A qualified workforce is the key to both our human and economic recovery from the pandemic.”
In order to have a qualified workforce, she said the educator needs to clearly understand child development, dual-language, special education and trauma-informed care. Additionally, she said there’s a need to engage in quality practicum experience and earn a bachelor’s degree.
She also explained the need to support early childhood students by offering stipends to participate in required practicum experience and granting forgivable loans after they graduate.
Hurlbut closed by saying she is willing and eager to work with the State Senate to develop innovative solutions to meet the challenges.
“I’m glad I had the opportunity to share information during the hearing,” said Hurlbut. “Supporting early childhood education is so important because 85-90 percent of the brain is developed in the first five years. The need for a qualified and sustainable workforce is critical. We need to find funding to support these workers. It’s well worth the investment.”
For information about undergraduate programs offered by the Early Childhood Studies department, visit www.cpp.edu/ceis/early-childhood-studies/index.shtml.