In order for many parents to work, they need reliable child care for their children. There are a variety of types of child care options. A popular option is home or family child care with 40% of children spending more time in family child care than in any other child care setting. Often operating in someone’s home, these facilities are licensed to care for about 8-12 children.
The child care industry is often called the “workforce behind the workforce.” Child care has long been devalued as just “looking after” children. In reality, child care combines early childhood education with skill development and acquisition making it highly skilled, labor intensive work. As technology is ubiquitous among all sectors, child care is no exception, which is why technology skills for both children and child care providers improve both working conditions and care in these settings.
Here are 3 ways technology is essential in child care for both caregivers & children:
1. Communication with Parents
Parents trust child care providers with their children during their workday. Communication must happen between parents and child care providers to ensure the best possible care for the child. As is the case with most communication today, much of this happens online.
For example, child care providers can stay in touch with parents via Zoom and email. Parents can complete relevant paperwork online and stay abreast of updates from the facility like closures or other important announcements.
Outside of logistical uses, child care providers can share at-home learning opportunities with parents. These activities, such as committing to read to a child a certain amount of time per day, can better prepare parents to support their children when they enter school.
2. Exposing Children to Technology Early
Young children in homes without digital access are more likely to be excluded from future economic opportunities. By introducing technology in a child care setting in a developmentally appropriate manner, caregivers can enhance or extend learning.
During the pandemic, some providers set up virtual classes to support the early learning of children. This allowed children at home to practice skills like reading and writing in a productive, engaging way using technology with direct feedback from their caregivers and parents.
Introducing technology to children is not as simple as handing a child a device and expecting them to use it on their own. Using technology with young children is an ongoing debate. However, there are ways to measure the benefits of technology before introducing it to children as a caregiver or parent.
Here are 3 questions to ask before introducing technology to children:
- Is useful feedback about the use of the technology provided to the children by a caregiver or parent? Technology is more effective for learning when adults interact or co-participate with children. It can also support adult-child interactions.
- Does it allow children to practice a skill in a productive, engaging way? Technology should not replace real-world activities and social interactions.
- Is information available for adults to support children as they use the technology? Adults should evaluate technology carefully before introducing it to children.
The key is to ensure the use of developmentally appropriate practices. Once you determine the technology to introduce to your children, you can obtain the device you need. One way to do this is through Digitunity’s network, which you can find more information about here.
3. Administrative Tasks
Running a business in today’s world is a technology heavy venture. Finance management, data reporting to government licensing boards on key performance indicators, and advertising on social media are all common administrative tasks done using technology, including software intended for specific tasks. The child care industry is not immune to this need to use technology for daily tasks.
Additionally, the facility may use specialized child care software to track attendance, curriculum, and scheduling. Because of this, it is essential for child care professionals to be well-versed in the technology required to run their businesses. Technology also allows caregivers to connect and learn from other child care providers online or through industry-specific groups such as the National Association for Family Child Care.
Why it Matters
Our economy depends on high-quality child care yet in 2021, 126,000 child care workers left for higher-paying positions. On average, child care workers in the U.S. are paid $13.51 per hour. This is roughly half what the average American worker is paid ($27.31). Women make up 94% of the child care workforce with women of color making up 41% of that.
There is a great need for increased pay, child care subsidies for families, and recognition of the value of child care providers as professionals, including ongoing training opportunities to build their digital and other professional skills. Child care providers must be part of local, regional, and national digital inclusion ecosystems and efforts.
Opportunities for Digital Inclusion in Child Care
With 1 million paid caregivers caring for 3 million children from birth to age five in home child care settings, there’s a major opportunity for the development of digital access and literacy in a community. They can partner with organizations like Digitunity to get technology to the families they work with who need it. To obtain devices for your non-profit child care organization, click here. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with caregivers to support children.