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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration seeks to professionalize the child care industry by providing a legal clinic to existing and aspiring proprietors in an effort to address the day care dilemma in the District.
The goal of the legal clinic will be to help care providers understand and navigate the rules and regulations that govern child care facilities in D.C.
“As we work to expand inclusive prosperity and ensure that every Washingtonian shares in our city’s growth, increasing access to high-quality child care providers will help us put more families on a path to long-term economic stability,” Bowser said. “By ensuring that more providers — and potential providers — understand the rules and regulations for operating a high-quality child care center, we can create more child care seats and ensure more families have the resources they need to live, work and grow in Washington, D.C.”
The mayor made the announcement on Wednesday, May 3, at the ribbon-cutting celebration for the new Curious Explorers Child Development Center in Northwest, joined by Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services HyeSook Chung.
The announcement comes amid the administration’s latest initiative, Thrive By Five DC — a citywide effort to connect more families to a wide range of resources that support maternal and child health, behavioral health and early education.
“Most of my career I’ve thought about policy and programs that helps families be healthy and feel supported, so I’m just happy to be working with the mayor and the deputy mayor on the Thrive by Five initiative, which for the first time will try to bring all the resources for parents and providers to the child care space,” Chung said. “Our take is that we’ve done really great in terms of providing pre-K, early intervention and programs here and there, but this is an effort to bring everything together in one place.”
Chung asserts that they want the effort they put into a child’s early years to be connected to their success through high school.
“A lot of people think once they get into kindergarten that’s where education starts and we’re saying actually, no, its prenatally,” she said. “The education of the parent will then impact the education of the child. Parents always look at me like early literacy is a thing and I say, yes, you have to start reading to them when they’re born.”
The administration said to ensure safe, high-quality child care, and to comply with federal requirements, day care and in-home child care centers in the District must comply with rules and regulations relating to safety and programming.
The upcoming free legal clinic, which will take place Saturday, June 3, at Eastern High School in Northeast, will feature speakers, activities and other resources to help potential and existing child care providers understand these rules and regulations.
The legal clinic will be added to the list of District partnerships with the DC Bar Pro Bono Center.
“We know how important child care is to families in our growing city,” Niles said. “The more we provide these types of services, the more students we will set up for success. I thank the DC Bar Pro Bono Center for their partnership.”
Last month, the mayor announced that “DC Values in Action: A Roadmap to Inclusive Prosperity,” her fiscal year 2018 budget and financial plan, which included a $15.3 million investment to increase access to infant and toddler child care options in D.C.
Over the next three years, the investment will create an additional 1,300 infant and toddler seats and support 300 D.C. residents gain certification as educators for infants and toddlers.
“The 15.3 million investment has a couple key components,” Niles said. “One is focused on increasing the number of infant and toddler seats. We have about 27,000 toddlers and we have about 8,000 seats for child care centers.
“Through this investment we will seek to expand the number of seats by 1,300.” she said. “In addition, 13 million will be used towards facilities grants.”
Niles said that the rest of the allocated funds will be invested in human capital, such as assisting teachers with bachelor degrees and creating a career pathway for high school students who want to go into the child care industry.
“We know that child care is a complex thing,” she said. “You don’t get to pull one lever and everything’s better, but we are trying this to address the child care shortage.”