Early Childhood Education

Q32: Do you have a plan to ensure the availability of optional, free, publicly funded “universal” pre-kindergarten programs for all three and four-year old children whose parents choose to enroll them?

Biden: Yes. For families with young children, finding highly quality pre-K is a major financial, logistical, and emotional burden, with potentially life-long consequences for their children. As president, I will work with states to provide high-quality, universal pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds at no cost for families. This investment will ease the burden on our families, help close the achievement gap, promote the labor participation of parents who want to work, and lift our critical early childhood education workforce out of poverty.

Bloomberg: Yes. Mike will guarantee access to full-day preschool for all three- and four-year-olds.

Buttigieg: Yes. My plan will provide affordable, universal full-day child care and pre-K for all children, from infancy to age 5, serving more than 20 million children, with a landmark $700 billion investment. https://peteforamerica.com/policies/education/

De La Fuente: Yes. We must increase government funding for free, publicly funded education starting pre-kindergarten.

Sanders: Yes. The ages 0-4 are the most important years of human development. In America today, we have a dysfunctional childcare and pre-K system. It is unconscionable that in the wealthiest country in the world, we do not properly invest in our children’s healthy physical, social, educational, and cognitive development. We need a revolution in this country in terms of how we provide child care and pre-K education. Bernie will guarantee universal childcare and prekindergarten to every child in America to help level the playing field, create new and good jobs, and enable parents more easily balance the demands of work and home.

Steyer: Yes. I believe free, universal access to high-quality preschool is critical to closing the school readiness gap. I will ensure all families can enroll their 3- and 4-year-olds in preschool, staffed with teachers with similar qualifications and compensation to their K-12 counterparts.

Warren: Yes. As part of a comprehensive early childhood education system, I will ensure all children can attend free high-quality universal pre-K. That means pre-K teachers that are prepared, supported, and compensated fairly, and program alignment to K-3, ensuring that every child is ready for day one of kindergarten and beyond.

Q33: Do you have a plan to increase investments in Head Start?

Biden: Yes. As president, I will work with states to provide pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds, including through Head Start, to ensure all of our children are successful.

Bloomberg: Yes. Mike will triple the number of infants and toddlers served by Early Head Start and expand the reach of Head Start.

Buttigieg: Yes. I will build on and unify existing funding streams to finance a major new universal subsidy program, while also strengthening and expanding Head Start and Early Head Start into full-time programs accessible to many more low- income families.

De La Fuente: No.

Sanders: Yes. Every child should start with the same educational opportunities, regardless of their family’s race or income. Ninety percent of brain development occurs between birth and five years of age, yet we have never sufficiently invested in early childhood education. As a Senator, Bernie worked to expand access to Early Head Start and Head Start.

As president, Bernie will guarantee universal childcare and pre-kindergarten to every child in America to help level the playing field, create new and good jobs, and enable parents more easily balance the demands of work and home.

Steyer: Yes. In addition to providing free, universal preschool, I will expand Early Head Start eligibility to 150 percent of the poverty line and increase funding to guarantee services for every eligible family who wants to participate.

Warren: Yes. My universal child care program builds on the success of the Head Start program, and fully integrates the program to create a unified system that serves the needs of families currently eligible for Head Start services while making affordable child care truly universal for all.

Q34: Do you support full day kindergarten?

Biden: Yes. I have called for tripling funding for Title I, which will support full day kindergarten.

Bloomberg: Yes. Mike believes in universal, free, full-day kindergarten as the foundation of a life of learning. In addition, he will invest in reaching the goal of universal access to high-quality, full-day pre-school for all three and four-year-olds.

Buttigieg: Yes. Yes. My plan will make high-quality, full-day early learning opportunities–including kindergarten–available to and affordable for every family. It will be free for those most in need. https://peteforamerica.com/policies/education

De La Fuente: Yes.

Sanders: Yes. Bernie supports full-day educational programs for children starting at six weeks old. This game-changing investment would provide children with the support and education they deserve, help level the playing field for children in poverty, and yield billions of dollars in future economic returns for our nation.

Steyer: Yes.

Warren: Yes. High-quality early education pays off in all sorts of ways for the rest of kids’ lives. Research has shown that early education promotes cognitive skills, attentiveness, motivation, sociability, and self-control — the kinds of skills that result in children leading happier, healthier, and more productive lives as adults. Every child deserves a great public school education, and that includes the opportunity to attend full-day kindergarten. My education plan quadruples federal Title I funding and incentivizes states to chip in more funding for k-12 education, providing much-needed resources that can be used to expand access to full-day kindergarten.

Q35: Do you have a plan to ensure that childcare workers are paid a living wage?

Biden: Yes. Childcare workers will benefit from my plan to increase the federal minimum wage to $15. I will also ensure that care professionals receive overtime. The Obama-Biden Administration extended long overdue overtime and minimum wage protections to nearly 2 million home care workers. As president, I will codify these protections into law and build on them.

Additionally, when Congress extended labor rights and protections to workers, domestic workers – who are disproportionately immigrants and people of color – were left out. Still today, millions of these workers are not fully protected under federal labor law. As president, I will support legislation, including Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, that expands federal protections to domestic workers, ensuring that they too have the right to basic workplace protections and to organize and collectively bargain. And, through the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights, I will ensure domestic workers have a voice in the workplace through a wage and standards board.

Bloomberg: Yes. Mike supports raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and increasing it automatically in future years by linking it to growth in earnings.​ He will create a refundable federal tax credit for early childhood teachers.

Buttigieg: Yes. I will invest $2 billion per year in dedicated workforce development funding for training, certification, and wage increases. Early childhood professionals should have greater opportunities to pursue certificates, credentials, and college degrees in flexible ways that build their teaching and caregiving skills and have an immediate impact on program quality and children’s development.

De La Fuente: Yes. Under my administration, all workers will receive a living wage starting with increasing the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour.

Sanders: Yes. Even though they take on the most important job in America – caring for our children – child care workers, 96 percent of whom are women and are disproportionately women of color, are paid starvation wages. That is unacceptable and immoral. When Bernie is in the White House, we will invest in our child care workers and pay them a living wage, provide strong benefits, and make it easier for them to join unions and bargain collectively for a better life.

Steyer: Yes. I support a living wage for all Americans, including childcare workers. Raising the minimum wage to $15.00 is a starting point.

Warren: Yes. Under my plan to provide universal child care, child care and preschool workers will be doing the educational work that teachers do, so they will be paid like comparable public school teachers. More than a million child care workers, who are disproportionately women of color, will get higher wages and more money to spend.

Q36: The school-to-prison pipeline actually starts in preschool with children under five being three times more likely to be suspended or expelled than high school
students. Will you support ending the practice of suspending and expelling
preschoolers?

Biden: Yes. Eliminating suspensions and expulsions in early learning programs was a priority for the Obama-Biden Administration and I will build on that work as president. Our Departments of Education and Health and Human Services issued a P olicy Statement on Expulsion and Suspension Practices in Early Childhood Settings providing recommendations to early childhood programs promoting the use evidence-based practices to address challenging behavior. We launched the Pyramid Equity Project funding the Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, which developed tools to “address implicit bias, implement culturally responsive practices, and use data systems to understand potential discipline equity issues.” As President, I will build on these efforts, working to eliminate suspension and expulsion of young children in early learning settings.

Bloomberg: We will share details of our K-12 plan with you when it has been made public.

Buttigieg: Yes. I will break the school-to-prison pipeline by, among other actions, reinstating Obama-era guidance to address discipline disparities and investing in successful district-level solutions that reduce the use of exclusionary discipline, starting in preschool. We will encourage states to pass legislation that eliminates suspensions for discretionary infractions, such as “disrespect” or dress code infractions, where bias is most likely to seep in. I will also direct the Department of Education to issue guidance on non-punitive alternatives like restorative justice and positive behavioral supports, and close the gap in access to school counselors at Title I and rural schools.

De La Fuente: Yes.

Sanders: Yes. It is outrageous that Black students and students with disabilities are more likely to be subjected to exclusionary discipline measures than their same age peers. When a child is pushed out of school they lose instructional time and are more likely to become involved with the juvenile and adult justice systems. We must end the school-to-prison pipeline. When Bernie is in the White House, we will address disciplinary practices in schools that disproportionately affect Black and Brown children, including ending the practice of suspending and expelling preschoolers.

Steyer: Yes.

Warren: Yes. Every child should have the opportunity to receive the support they need to thrive inside and outside of the classroom. But today, Black and Brown students bear the brunt of harmful zero tolerance policies, and are disproportionately arrested in schools. I will tackle the school-to-prison pipeline head-on by equipping schools with the resources to meet their students’ needs instead of punishing them. That means enforcing civil rights laws to prevent discriminatory practices, where schools choose to have officers on campus, requiring training on discrimination, youth development, and de-escalation tactics, providing access to health care to support the physical, mental, and social development of children, improving their overall school readiness and providing early intervention services. I’ll also fight to end zero-tolerance discipline policies. Zero- tolerance policies require out-of-school suspensions or expulsions on the first offense for a variety of behaviors. These policies are ineffective, disproportionately hurt Black, Latinx, Native American, and Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander students, and can serve as the entry point to the school-to-prison pipeline. My administration will encourage schools to adopt discipline policies that draw students in rather than pushing them out, including restorative justice programs, which have been shown to dramatically reduce suspension rates and the discipline gap between Black and White students. I will also push to issue guidance to limit the use of discriminatory dress codes targeting student dress and hairstyle that lead to students of color losing valuable learning time and Muslim students being denied participation in school activities. We should decriminalize truancy and instead increase the number of school mental health personnel and training for behavioral interventions, trauma- informed alternative discipline practices, and implicit bias to limit suspensions, expulsions, and minor-infraction arrests. I will require that any police department receiving federal funds provide mandatory training in the scientific and psychological roots of discrimination, youth development, and de-escalation tactics to officers assigned to school campuses. I’ll rescind Trump’s executive order that allows school districts to participate in the 1033 program, giving them access to military-grade weapons. And I’ll fully fund the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education so that it can investigate school districts with dramatic disparities in school disciplinary actions.

Q37: Research has demonstrated that children in high-quality childcare and learning programs perform better on a range of indicators of cognitive and social
development. These programs can advance equity by ensuring that each child and family has access to education and supports designed to meet their unique needs. But quality childcare can cost more than tuition at a public university. What specifically will you do to make quality childcare affordable and available?

Biden: I will expand access to quality, affordable child care through increased funding for grants to states to ensure low and moderate-income families can afford child care and will increase the child and dependent care tax credit so that families can claim up to $8,000. I will provide universal access to high-quality preschool for 3 and 4 year olds.

Bloomberg: Yes. Mike believes it’s the president’s job to make children’s lives better, for their future, and for America’s. Research shows that the most important phase of a child’s brain development happens before he or she turns five, and yet today, spending in the United States on early childhood education is among the lowest of developed countries. As president, Mike will make our children a national priority. Mike will invest in childhood education and well-being from the start, by increasing the percentage of families receiving subsidies through the Child Care and Development Block Grants.

Buttigieg: Yes. To maximize the critical period of growth in children’s first five years of life, early learning programs in America must be high-quality, affordable, and accessible–and they must work for all children, especially those from historically marginalized communities. Today, Americans with young children get little public assistance, worsening the vast inequalities that set in before children even meet their first public school teacher. To address this need, I will ensure universal affordability for all families, add significant support for transportation and program counseling, and raise program quality standards. I will make high-quality, full-day early learning opportunities affordable for every family, and free for those most in need. No family will have to pay more than seven percent of their income in early learning costs, and families earning below median income will pay between zero and seven percent of income—dramatically reducing current spending that often exceeds 20 percent of income. Families in poverty will have fully subsidized care. This means an average savings of over $10,000 per child per year for those families making below median income, and significantly reduced costs for all families.

De La Fuente: Yes.

Sanders: Yes. Today, caring for children in America is so outrageously expensive that having children is a leading cause of poverty in the United States. Bernie believes that no family should be pushed into poverty for “the crime” of making sure their children are cared for and safe. That’s why, when Bernie is in the White House, we will guarantee high-quality, childcare for all families who want and need early care and educational opportunities for their young children.

Steyer: Yes. I am in favor of subsidized child care so both parents can continue to work. In addition to providing free, universal preschool, I will expand Early Head Start eligibility to 150 percent of the poverty line and increase funding to guarantee services for every eligible family who wants to participate.

Warren: Yes. In the wealthiest country on the planet, access to affordable, high-quality child care and early education should be a right, not a privilege reserved for the rich. My Universal Child Care and Early Learning plan will guarantee high-quality child care and early education for every child in America from birth to school age. This means that high-quality child care and early education will be free for millions of American families, and affordable for everyone. Under this new plan: – 12 million kids will take advantage of these new high-quality options – nearly double the number that currently receive formal child care outside the home. – More than a million child-care workers, who are disproportionately women of color, will get higher wages and more money to spend because they are doing the educational work that teachers do and will be paid like comparable public school teachers. – More parents can work more hours if they choose to, producing stronger economic growth. – Quality early education will produce better health, educational, and employment outcomes well into adulthood. This plan gives every kid a fair shot. Read more about my plan for universal child care and early learning: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/universal-child-care.

Q38: Preschool teachers and childcare providers are educating children in the most critical time in their development. But according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics (BLS), these educators earned a median annual wage of $21,710 as of May 2016, while public transit bus drivers earned $39,790 on average. Do you support higher wages to compensate and attract highly-qualified educators for young children? How would you pay for it?

Biden: Yes. My universal pre-K plan will ensure that pre-K teachers are paid on parity with elementary school teachers if they have comparable experience and credentials. Additionally, childcare providers will benefit from my plan to increase the federal minimum wage to $15, as well as my plan to expand access to quality, affordable child care. The Obama-Biden Administration extended long overdue overtime and minimum wage protections to nearly 2 million home care workers. As president, I will codify these protections into law and build on them. My plan to protect and strengthen unions will also ensure that teachers receive appropriate compensation for their work.

View details of my plan to support our educators by giving them the pay and dignity they deserve HERE.

Buttigieg: Yes. The early childhood workforce is the most critical factor in the success of a strong early learning system. But early childhood educators, who are predominantly women and disproportionately women of color, earn on average less than $11 per hour. My administration will provide significant new investment in increasing wages, investing in the current workforce, and attracting new professionals to the early learning field who reflect the diversity of our communities. My plan also will invest $2 billion per year in dedicated workforce development funding for training, certification, and wage increases. Those already in the early childhood workforce will have opportunities to receive competency- based credits for existing skills. Expanded federal funds will be contingent on states setting fair and appropriate CCDF payment rates that are current, commensurate with other similarly qualified professionals, and enable providers to take home a fair wage. In addition, I will support strong unions for educators and staff and expand and improve public service loan forgiveness for early childhood educators. As outlined in my American Opportunity Agenda (https://peteforamerica.com/policies/education/), I will provide earlier loan forgiveness and full debt cancellation to individuals in public service jobs, including early childhood educators, after 10 years of service.

De La Fuente: Yes. We will fund it by re-allocating money generated from eliminating wasteful Pentagon spending and government waste. The idea that our country would spend more than $11 billion giving a few nuclear bombs a facelift while our teachers live in poverty is unconscionable.

Sanders: Yes. There is no more important job in America than taking care of, nurturing, and educating our youngest children. Today’s infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are the future of our country. Despite the skyrocketing costs of child care and early education, child care workers, on average, make just $11 an hour. Even though they take on the most important job in America – caring for our children – child care workers, 96 percent of whom are women and are disproportionately women of color, are paid starvation wages.

In 2015, nearly 15 percent of child care workers lived in poverty, compared to about 7 percent of workers in other occupations. Childcare workers cannot even afford care for their own children. Many ECE workers who would like to stay in the profession simply cannot afford to do it. Increasing the compensation of those that work with our youngest children benefits all children and families, as fair compensation can reduce teacher turnover and help attract additional high-quality talent to this important field. If we are serious about investing in our children’s futures, we have to do better for those who care for our children.

When Bernie is President, we will invest in our child care workers and pay them a living wage, provide strong benefits, and make it easier for them to join unions and bargain collectively for a better life. When front line child care workers can join together in unions, they not only improve their own lives but help raise quality standards and ensure the industry works for parents and kids as well.

Steyer: Yes. I understand that investing in the early years can transform a child’s life, and benefit society overall. We need skilled and qualified professionals staffing our preschools and daycare centers. As part of my plan to provide universal free preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds, preschool teachers will receive compensation comparable to their K-12 counterparts.

Warren: Yes. Child care and preschool workers will be doing the educational work that teachers do, so under my plan they will be paid like comparable public school teachers. This plan will be fully covered by my Ultra-Millionaire Tax — a two-cent tax on net worth over $50 million and a six-cent tax on net worth over $1 billion. This new tax would only apply to the 75,000 wealthiest families in the country, but it would generate trillions of dollars in revenue over ten years for unprecedented investments in public K-12 education, universal child care, free public college, and cancelling student loan debt.