Early Childhood Educators Struggle to Make Ends Meet, Report Says

A recent report compiled by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) found that, on average, early childhood educators—including both center- and home-based child care and preschool—are paid $9.77 per hour. Unfortunately, as a result of this low pay, “46 percent of the early educator workforce belongs in a family that uses some sort of public assistance to make ends meet, like food stamps.”

Why do a large majority of early educators make such low pay? The report says one of the main reasons is that states don’t require qualifications of people looking to become an early educator. In fact, 23 states don’t require a bachelor’s degree for lead preschool teachers working in the public education system, and 23 states have no requirements for regulated home-based providers.

“Early educators’ skills, knowledge, and well-being are inseparable from the quality of children’s early learning experiences,” said Marcy Whitebook, director of CSCCE and one of the study’s authors. “But states are failing to provide the combination of appropriate compensation, professional work environments, and training teachers need to help children succeed.”

The CSCCE’s report makes several policy recommendations for how states may improve the quality of the early childhood education workforce.

“It is our hope that expanded and consistent focus on early childhood jobs will, in turn, generate refined strategies and encourage the incubation and testing of sustainable policies to attend to compensation and other issues that have gone largely unaddressed,” the CSCCE writes.

You can access the full report and state-specific findings on an interactive map over on the CSCCE’s website.

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