By Liz Hibbs, Early Childhood Education Alliance Director
In May 2019, the Early Childhood Education Alliance, also known as ECEA, began meeting with local CEOs and other community leaders to improve the quality of life in Alliance, Ohio. These meetings stemmed from a letter written by an employee who was struggling to afford child care. This employee had worked at that particular business for years and was an excellent employee. However, child care difficulties were making it impossible for the employee to come to work. It was then decided that attracting and retaining a workforce in Alliance must be a priority.
After several months of brainstorming, the Alliance Employment Promise (AEP) was born.
Coastal Pet Products, MAC Trailer, Morgan Engineering, and Robertson Heating Supply successfully piloted the Alliance Employment Promise until March 2020, and then COVID arrived. Despite pandemic closures, the Alliance Employment Promise survived and is thriving.
The Alliance Employment Promise is a voluntary employer-funded program for participating Alliance Area Development businesses. Employers who take part will offer a subsidy of up to $200 per child per month to offset employee child development costs. These funds go directly to an ECEA-supported center. ECEA collaborates with eight early childhood centers, all of which are highly rated via the state’s star rating Step Up to Quality system.
Mom and Alliance-area employee, Ana Dulaney, shares her and her family’s experience. “Through the Alliance Employment Promise program, my husband and I both are eligible to receive a subsidy for childcare at ECEA-supported centers here in Alliance. The owners of MAC Trailer and Robertson Heating Supply are in support of allowing us both to participate and we have been approved! From our employers, we will receive $200 per child per month, from BOTH EMPLOYERS. We will get $800 off a month over the summer. Beginning in the fall, the girls can be bussed from their school to their center, and the cost of afterschool care will be covered 100% by the subsidy provided by our employers.
I have never felt prouder to be a part of this community. These business owners allowing us both to participate in this program is so significant to us. We have such overwhelming gratitude to them for helping us. With their support, we will be able to afford child care so we both can continue to work and contribute to our organizations. Our kids will thrive in an educational environment where they can socialize with other kids and be safely cared for under the regulations of these centers. We are so excited and thankful for this next chapter, and it could not be done without the Alliance Employment Promise.”
Everyone benefits via the Alliance Employment Promise. The children are guaranteed a quality early childhood education with quality care. The parents can work with peace of mind knowing their children are well cared for and educated without it breaking the bank. Employers have a higher employee satisfaction rate which creates retention, reliability, and stability. The centers benefit because they have guaranteed enrollment and funding. The community benefits because when we invest in quality early childhood care and education, we’re investing in our best resource - our people.
According to Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman, there is a 13% return on investment that children who receive a quality early childhood education are more likely to graduate from high school, avoid teen pregnancy, stay out of prison, enroll in a degree program, or become skilled in a trade.
What kind of future are we creating for our children and our community? In Alliance, children are valued as members of the community. The principles of equity guide our relationships with children, families, and our community. We believe every child deserves access to enriching early experiences to enhance development and enable them to enter school ready to succeed. Thankfully, so do forward-thinking employers.
For more information about the AEP, contact Liz.