University of California at Berkeley
Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study
Early childhood teachers: critical and underpaid
A new report from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, a follow-up of a report 25 years earlier, finds that despite a two-fold increase in costs to parents for early childhood services since 1997, childcare workers have had no increase in real earnings. As was true in 1989, childcare workers earn less than adults who take care of animals, and barely more than fast-food cooks. Many early childhood teachers who earn degrees, often while working full time, seldom find their earnings aligned with their qualifications. It also finds that over the last 17 years, the share of Head Start teachers with an associate or bachelor’s degree has increased by 61 percent, and the share of assistant teachers with a degree has increased by 24 percent. In addition to examining trends in center-based teachers’ education, wages, and turnover, the report includes new evidence examining economic insecurity and use of public benefits among this predominantly female, ethnically diverse workforce. The report also appraises state and national efforts to improve early childhood teaching jobs, and offers recommendations aimed at reinvigorating a national conversation about the status and working conditions of the more than two million teaching staff who work in our nation’s early-care and -education settings.
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