We sat down with Evelio Torres with the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe to ask three important questions:
What does your business do?
The Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe is a nonprofit organization established under Chapter 1002.83, Florida Statute. The Coalition is a local administrator of the state’s School Readiness and VPK program in partnership with the Department of Education. We are dedicated to ensuring high-quality early education for children in Miami-Dade and Monroe. Through a community-based collaborative approach, we are committed to promoting high-quality early learning, advocating on behalf of children, and preparing every child for success in both school and life.
What is one challenge your industry is facing?
In response to inflation and the workforce shortage, employers have increased wages, which has resulted in many low-income working families no longer qualifying for the School Readiness program. The current eligibility policies create affordability challenges and fiscal cliffs that act as barriers to economic self-sufficiency.
How can we unite as a business community to help grow your industry in Florida?
The School Readiness eligibility threshold issue has created fiscal cliffs for many low-income working families that may be forced to pick between a small wage increase, which could result in losing out on thousands of dollars in subsidies, or leaving the workforce altogether as they cannot afford the high costs of childcare. When parents leave their jobs and cannot afford to pay for childcare, it not only affects the current workforce, but the future workforce as well, as children who are not enrolled in quality programs may not receive vital early education and development that leads to lifelong success.
The business community can help remedy this challenge by addressing their local and state leaders – raising awareness about the challenges the workforce is experiencing due to child care affordability and availability. The business community may also create scholarship opportunities for their employees, as well as the community they conduct business with.