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Early Education Workforce Act

Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Ms. Hirono) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Early Education Workforce Act.

Our youngest children are our most precious resources. Research shows that a child surrounded by a safe, stimulating and caring environment will literally develop a stronger brain. That child enters kindergarten ready to succeed and is more likely to graduate from high school, hold a steady job, and avoid prison.

Early education not only benefits the child and the adult he or she will become; it also helps to ensure that America has the educated workforce we will need to address challenges as a Nation in the future.

I believe in research-based policy. If we don't know something is going to work, I hesitate to invest Federal dollars. Unfortunately, in many cases research is ambiguous at best, but high-quality early education is a great exception.

We know it works. The research continues to mount as experts from all fields, economists, neurologists, police officers and teachers, come to a consensus that it pays to invest early in our children.

Our States are making great progress in ensuring that every family has the option of sending their children to high-quality child care and preschool. However, in Hawaii and around the country, we are facing a major roadblock. We simply do not have a stable, adequate supply of qualified early education childhood professionals. If we
don't have the teachers, we don't have quality programs; and this is a major problem because quality is a key ingredient in early education.

A poorly designed program or an understaffed one is not going to produce the results we owe our kids, so we must address this problem. We must recruit and retain early educators. And how do we do that? We can start by passing this authorization bill to streamline professional development opportunities, open doors to early education degree programs, and begin to address the woefully inadequate compensation our preschool teachers and child care workers receive.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill on behalf of our children and to honor and encourage the people who dedicate their lives to preparing our youngest children for success.

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