The State of the Child Care Workforce


There is a scientific consensus that early childhood education is central to shaping children’s lifelong knowledge and skills.

Early educator’s skills, knowledge and well-being are inseparable from the quality of children’s early learning experiences.

Yet, early educators are among the lowest paid workers in the country.

These are some of the findings of a new report, “The Early Childhood Workforce Index” published by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California.

Here are some of the report’s findings:

  • The median hourly wage for family child care providers is $12.44. For preschool teachers it is $13.74 and for Kindergarten teachers it is $24.83.
  • 39% of regulated family child care providers have a household income of less than $35,000.
  • 52% of center-based teachers have an associates or bachelor’s degree or higher versus 31% of regulated home providers and 24% of unregulated home providers

Only 17 states have policies or programs in place to address the problem of low wages for early educators and they still fall severely short.

Education requirements vs. a livable wage

According to the National Academies of Science “those who teach and care for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers require equivalent levels of knowledge and skill as teachers of older children.” Yet, this report shows that no states have qualification requirements in line with their recommendations.

Herein lies a major dilemma for family child care providers and all other child care workers.

The push for higher education standards is often not accompanied by an equal push for higher compensation for child care workers.

As the authors of the report make clear, “In line with this increased recognition o the importance of ECE (Early Childhood Education), there have been notable, but uneven, strides in improving the education and training levels of the ECE workforce over the last quarter century. But efforts to link these improvements to policies and resources that address teachers’ economic well-being have been largely optional, selective, and sporadic.”

There has been little discussion during the presidential campaign about child care issues. The Trump campaign website says nothing about child care. The Clinton website does have detailed proposals about how to raise wages, improve quality and lower the cost to parents.

You can read the full report here.

In my opinion, the push for higher education credentials for family child care providers without a much greater push for higher reimbursements and wage enhancements does not make sense. It will result in fewer licensed providers and more children in substandard care. Only greater government support for both providers and parents will make a difference.

Tom Copeland –

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Categories: Advocacy

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