Child care is the backbone of America's workforce
without childcare, millions of employees cannot work
But the field is in crisis.
In today’s economy, most families need all adults to work full time, making child care indispensable for most households. Such an essential industry should be set up to support all who are involved, yet the reality of the child care industry is grim and we are facing a shortage of child care programs and teachers are leaving the field at an unprecedented rate.
There is not a shortage of teachers, there is a shortage of funding.
Most child care programs function as private business enterprises, but family paid tuition cannot bring in enough revenue to support the budget schools need to offer quality care, employ educators as valued professionals, and remain affordable for families. When schools don’t have enough money, they are forced to find it by taking from one area and adding to another. With so many fixed operating costs, teacher’s salaries take the hit. Teachers are funding childcare with their abhorrently low wages - a state-wide average of $18 dollars an hour, about $37,000 a year.
At this wage, it is only natural that working with young children has become a means to an end, rather than a fulfilling and respected career. Teachers are left to piece together livable incomes, or eventually, forced to leave child care. Consequently, schools are staffed by caring, but inexperienced, burnt out, or uninspired teachers. Schools experience high turn over rates and unbalanced budgets, leading many to close their doors and leaving families with even fewer choices for the child care they desperately need.
How to Respond
Supplement the budgets of child care programs, allowing them to pay teachers ethical wages, provide further teacher education backed by current research, uplift the quality of the care they are offering, and provide child care to communities at an affordable rate. With a combination of family paid tuition and public supplemental funds, the child care system can function for everyone— for the children, the families, the educators, and the wider community of neighbors. We are excited about the current attention the child care workforce is gaining in both the federal and state legislatures.