Gould and her co-authors suggested that lawmakers overhaul the child care system. They recommend funding professional development for early education teachers and paying them in line with what K-12 teachers make. Incorporating those changes, and others, would cost money. The report estimates a revamped system would cost between about $30 billion and $75 billion a year.
Letting the system continue as it is hurts everyone, Gould said.
"If teachers aren't doing well, if they're experiencing stress because of their low pay, then that's going to factor into the quality (of care) that those children are getting," she said.
And Gould points out the early childhood workforce is largely made up of women, who she said are undervalued for the work they do.
"I think that there's an undervaluing in terms of the teaching of young children. Undervaluing of what has been historically women's work — historically women of color doing that work," she said.
The Legislature is considering several bills aimed at improving the early child care system. The legislation includes an effort to let in-home providers unionize, and requiring more training for child care workers.