Credentialism Run Amok

Washington, D.C., Requires College Degrees for Day Care Workers

By 2020, 76 percent of jobs in Washington, D.C., are projected to require postsecondary schooling. Among the latest jobs added to the list? Day care providers.

The city’s new regulations will force hundreds of day care providers to obtain a college degree or lose their jobs. In November, IJ helped the public send D.C.’s education agency more than 350 comments objecting to the college requirement. Despite such overwhelming opposition, D.C. has done nothing to change the regulations. So in April, IJ joined two day care providers and a parent to challenge the college requirement in federal court.

As people across the political spectrum recognize the enormous burdens created by unnecessary occupational licenses, D.C. officials have chosen to make the problem worse by demanding an empty credential to care for a 2-year-old. Most day care providers do not have the time or money to go to college. Some are immigrants who face an insurmountable language barrier. Others are older women with years of experience caring for kids but no experience writing a term paper on Moby Dick. Working in a day care is one of the few jobs available to many of D.C.’s most economically vulnerable residents, and the college requirement threatens to leave them without a way to care for their own families. Requiring degrees for providers will also make day care more expensive in a city that already has the highest child care costs in the nation.

The city’s new regulations will force hundreds of day care providers to obtain a college degree or lose their jobs.

D.C. was trying so hard to be one of the first places in the country to require degrees for day care providers that it did not stop to consider whether such a requirement actually makes sense. An associate degree in early childhood education requires around 60 credit hours, most of which are completely irrelevant to caring for infants and toddlers. Day care providers do not need courses in English literature, math, or public speaking to provide safe and loving care.

Among those affected by the college requirement are IJ clients Altagracia Yluminada (“Ilumi”) Sanchez and Dale Sorcher. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Ilumi runs a day care in her home in Northeast D.C. Ilumi does not have time to get an associate degree, especially given that she cannot read or write English at a college level. She stands to lose her business, her home, and her ability to help her children pay for college because of D.C.’s regulations. Dale has master’s degrees in social work and expressive therapy, but her education and over seven years of experience caring for infants and toddlers at a synagogue preschool do not satisfy D.C.’s requirements. Dale could probably teach the classes she must take, but still she must endure hours of burdensome and unnecessary schooling.

Jill Homan, a parent, has also joined IJ to challenge the college requirement. Jill refuses to allow bureaucrats to take away her ability to choose who cares for her 1-year-old daughter.

IJ, Ilumi, Dale, and Jill have pledged to fight D.C.’s disastrous new regulations and vindicate the rights of day care providers and parents across the country. D.C. can not impose real burdens in pursuit of imaginary benefits.

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