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D.C. extends deadline for day-care workers to obtain more advanced degrees

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Childcare worker Debbie James-Dean, right, listens to her professor during a Physiology of Religion class on March 28, 2017. James-Dean is taking classes through Central Texas College with other childcare workers, (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: Childcare worker Debbie James-Dean, right, listens to her professor during a Physiology of Religion class on March 28, 2017. James-Dean is taking classes through Central Texas College with other childcare workers, (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)
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The D.C. government is extending the deadline for day-care employees to meet stricter education requirements after workers in the field argued that the new rules were unrealistic to complete.

In 2016, the city enacted among the nation’s most advanced education requirements for child-care workers. The rules were met with a backlash, with critics arguing that child-care workers are often paid minimum wage and there is little incentive for them to obtain higher degrees. They also feared workers would not be able to earn the degrees and would be forced to leave the field.

D.C. among first in nation to require child-care workers to get college degrees.

The timeline announced Friday would give employees an additional one to four years to complete certification or degree requirements. The extensions were proposed in November.

The city partnered with local universities this year to offer classes in child-care centers so workers do not have to travel to a university campus to complete a degree. The city government has allocated additional money to provide scholarships for workers to enroll in education programs.

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education is responsible for early-childhood education in the District.

“The new and further developed skills, knowledge and competencies gained will benefit our youngest learners and their families,” Superintendent Hanseul Kang said.

Lead teachers in a child-care center will have until December 2023 to receive at least an associate degree. Before the extension, they had until December 2020 to meet the requirement.

Assistant teachers, home caregivers and associate home caregivers must get a child development associate certificate, considered an entry-level credential in the field. That deadline was pushed back by a year, to 2019.

People who run child-care centers are required to have a college degree, with at least 15 credit hours in early-childhood education by 2022 — a deadline that has not changed.

Home-care providers serving a larger number of children will also need an associate degree, and the deadline for that moved from 2019 to 2023.

Waivers may be granted to some experienced and effective workers in the field.

The District estimates that about 1,000 people working as lead teachers do not have an associate degree, and another 1,000 working as assistant teachers and home caregivers do not have a Child Development Associate certificate.

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