Solution to the Child Care Trilemma

This article appeared in the Child Care Information Exchange in the mid 1990s. In the early part of that decade, Gwen Morgan, one of the pioneers of early care and education (ECE) regulatory science and administration, proposed the child care trilemma. The child care trilemma consists of the delicate balancing act of affordability, accessibility and quality. Dr Morgan’s thesis was that you could not change one without impacting the others and the child care field was having difficulty dealing with the trilemma at that point.

The article presents a proposed solution that alters the conventional wisdom of regulatory science and policy by suggesting to not increase adult child ratios but rather decrease it so that one additional child could be cared for by a very highly qualified teacher (BA/MA in ECE) and the additional revenue brought in by the additional child go directly to this highly qualified teacher as a teaching bonus/salary increase. By utilizing such a solution, it addresses all three components of the trilemma of quality, accessibility and affordability without violating any of them.

About Dr Fiene

Dr. Rick Fiene has spent his professional career in improving the quality of child care in various states, nationally, and internationally. He has done extensive research and publishing on the key components in improving child care quality through an early childhood program quality indicator model of training, technical assistance, quality rating & improvement systems, professional development, mentoring, licensing, risk assessment, differential program monitoring, and accreditation. Dr. Fiene is a retired professor of human development & psychology (Penn State University) where he was department head and director of the Capital Area Early Childhood Research and Training Institute.
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