INSIDE SOURCES

New law raises Washington DC childcare cost and affects childcare staff

May 23, 2024, 9:00 PM

A newly implemented city regulation in Washington DC is making the city and childcare even more exp...

FILE: The U.S. Capitol is shown in Washington, DC.A newly implemented city regulation in Washington DC is making the city and childcare even more expensive and unsustainable for families. (Stefan Zaklin /Getty Images)

(Stefan Zaklin /Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Washington is one of the most expensive cities in the nation to live. And needing childcare in the city only ups the price. A newly implemented city regulation is making the situation even more unsustainable for families.

This regulation was first drafted in 2016. Its goal is to protect the “health, safety and welfare” of Washington’s children. It also wants to promote an environment of “high-quality” education, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Essentially, the new regulation would require much of Washington’s childcare staff to have a college degree. 

Click here to read more about the requirements the regulation imposes on each staff type.

The regulation has not gone without objections. According to the Institute for Justice, a libertarian non-profit public interest law firm,  it could force a lot of Washington’s good childcare staff off the job. The Institute cites issues such as the cost of getting a college degree as well as the time needed as barriers.

However, the OSSE states that some childcare staff can apply for a waiver to continue working.

This will depend on how long they’ve been working in childcare and their level of education.

Justin Zuckerman a producer at Reason Magazine, recently joined Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson to give some insight on Washington’s new regulation on childcare.

A portion of the transcript, edited for brevity, is below.

ZUCKERMAN: A lot of these daycare teachers are working moms or they’re elderly and retired. They just don’t have time to go back to college. So, it’s created a lot of frustration for directors, for the teachers, for parents. And, a lot of people are also leaving the city now because of it.

MATHESON: Obviously, everyone wants quality daycare. Everyone wants kids to be safe in daycare. But is this law equating a college degree with better quality services and care for the kids? Is that actually the correlation and the connection or is that just a piece of regulation?

Does a degree mean better childcare?

ZUCKERMAN:  The science behind this says, for the most part, that daycare teachers who have bachelor’s degrees, those children tend to do better. But the science doesn’t actually say that it’s because of the bachelor’s degree.

Something like that is such a high standard that those kinds of daycares would cost a lot of money. It’s typically wealthier families who would put their kids in those programs.

Children from wealthy families tend to do better at school. The scientific paper that this new law is based off of even admits that they don’t have conclusive empirical evidence that having a college degree actually leads to better outcomes for kids or makes you a better teacher.

In the position of assistant teacher, you’re only required to have an associate’s degree in any field. So, you don’t even have to take a single class in early childhood education. You just need to have an associate’s degree in anything and you’re technically qualified.

What about other degrees?

MATHESON: And without it, you’re not, right? Even if it’s in underwater basket weaving, as long as you have that you’re in, if you don’t you’re out. I thought one of the other things that was really interesting in your piece, Justin, was a comment from one of the preschool directors saying that it’s not just taking the education, it’s experience. And so describe how this particular regulation in the city could impact the experience portion of getting to better daycare.

ZUCKERMAN: A lot of these daycare workers are women. And a lot of them have been working in this field for decades. They have experience that they say you simply can’t replicate or gain with a college degree.

It just comes with working in the fields for so long. If they do have a degree, you need a degree in early childhood education to be a lead teacher. If you have a degree in anything else, you’re still not technically qualified.

 People who have been working for more than 10 years, can apply for a waiver. But, like that director who you spoke of, she has 11 teachers who applied for waivers with the superintendent’s office. They’ve been waiting for months and they have not heard back. It’s very difficult for these workers. They have no idea what their status is.

(The entire podcast can be heard above or by visiting the KSL NewsRadio podcast page.)

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m. Follow the show on Facebook. 

Devin Oldroyd is a digital content producer for KSL NewsRadio. Follow him on X. 

Related local coverage: Unaffordable childcare plagues Utah families

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New law raises Washington DC childcare cost and affects childcare staff