I was fortunate to attend an early childhood conference in Baltimore a few weeks ago and in a session for newcomers to the conference where they usually talk about the history of child care, they instead asked, “What is your child care story?”
This conversation ended up morphing into its own modified history of the field in that there was a variety of people from different age groups and backgrounds who each had vastly different stories to share.
Some people told about staying with an aunt who always had a lovely afternoon snack, others told of a different setting each week as steady care was not an option and they bounced from house to house, and some shared about a more traditional preschool setting with playgrounds and classrooms.
While we all have a different story to tell, there is no ignoring the fact that childcare is something that affects each one of us.
Today’s toddlers will be graduating from high school in 2035 and making decisions about their careers and higher education. As seemingly abstract technology from Hollywood movies becomes reality, I can only imagine what career paths will be available to these toddlers 15 years from now.
Late last year, noted Artificial Intelligence Specialist and Venture Capitalist Kai-Fu Lee was interviewed on “60 Minutes” and predicted that robots will replace 40 percent of all current jobs within the next 15 to 25 years. Other predictions from Willis Towers Watson’s 2019 Pathways to Digital Enablement Survey are just as alarming with companies saying that 17 percent of work is now done through automation and expect it to reach 30 percent in the next three years.
While some technology experts see this as a threat to the workforce, many optimists see this as an opportunity for tech jobs to continue to grow so positions like “Man-Machine Team Manager”, “Artificial-Intelligence Business Development Manager” and “Cybercity Analyst” can exist.
Surprisingly, the largest concern of people in these tech industries right now is not actually who can think of the biggest and best machine the fastest, but will there be enough human talent to fill these roles and will there be enough individuals with the soft skills and the ability to be flexible and adaptable to learn and grow with these technologies – people with learning agility.
Luckily, we know that skills like learning agility are developed in the first 2,000 days of a child’s life, reinforcing how critical these early years are. High quality early childhood experiences are taking place in child care centers, preschools and in homes every day that will help children develop these skills. Today’s babies and toddlers will be filling tech jobs and nursing jobs and will be responsible for everything from self-driving vehicles to Elder Care.
So regardless of when you were a child, the state of child care is always relevant. Investing in high quality programming for children in their earliest years has a lasting effect on everyone and benefits us all.
The Children & Family Resource Center offers programs that provide support and guidance to educators in the child care centers and family child care homes every day. Our parent education programs are helping parents create positive and meaningful interactions with their children to nurture their development and growth and prevent child abuse and neglect.
Our staff makes home visits to our families to make sure we reach parents who might live in more isolated regions of our county and help them navigate the triumphs and challenges of parenthood. The programs at the Children & Family Resource Center are creating quality early childhood experiences for all the children we serve.
I challenge you to think about your child care story and how it has impacted your life’s trajectory. We don’t know exactly what the future will hold, or what the job market or economy may look like in 15 or 20 years, but we do know that today’s toddlers will be tomorrow’s machinists, health care providers, and leaders and what we do with them today matters.
For more information about our programs and how they are impacting the children in Henderson County, visit www.childrenandfamily.org.
Jamie Wiener is Executive Director of the Children & Family Resource Center, a nonprofit organization in Henderson County.