In early September, Excel by Eight partnered with the Institute for Economic Equity at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and Arkansas Asset Funders Network to host a roundtable discussion on “Child Care and the Economy.” The event featured business and industry leaders from across the state who shared insights and discussed opportunities to support child care for the current and future workforce.
Jill Wilson, executive director of two child care centers in Mountain Home, and Garrett Dolan, senior manager of corporate social responsibility at Tyson Foods, served on a panel moderated by Roby Brock, editor-in-chief and host of Talk Business and Politics. The panelists discussed the challenges facing employers and child care providers in Arkansas, including quality of care, workforce, and affordability.
A subcommittee based in the town of Horatio, Arkansas, in Sevier County has worked to raise funds to improve area parks and recreation spaces – as well as local businesses – with a focus on early childhood development.
One of the biggest threats to the child care industry is losing qualified teachers due to low wages. Paul Lazenby, Arkansas Early Childhood Association (AECA) executive director and T.E.A.C.H. state manager, talks about the Step Up to WAGE$ program they launched to help bridge the pay gap.