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Early Educators Suffer in All 50 States, Report Finds

Early Educators Suffer in All 50 States, Report Finds

In order to ensure that children in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. have access to quality early education, researchers from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) at the University of California, Berkeley believe that it must first be ensured that the early educator workforce is being supported.

As part of its State of the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative, a multi-year project dedicated to researching how to improve the quality of the early education workforce, CSCCE released today The Early Childhood Workforce Index, where it found that early educators in all U.S. states need more support.

Calling itself the first comprehensive analysis of the country's early educator workforce, the report found that the median wage for early educators is just $9.77 an hour. For that reason, 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.

The low pay is largely because states do not require extensive qualifications of individuals looking to become an early educator, this being despite research that supports early education teachers must possess similar knowledge and skill levels to teachers who work with older children. 23 states do not even require a Bachelor’s degree of lead pre-school teachers working in the public education system.

And though early education includes both center- and home-based child care, the report found a significant lack of oversight in states when it comes to regulating home-based care: 23 states have no requirements for regulated home-based providers versus the 10 that have no requirements for center-based providers.

In order to work towards improving the quality of early education, the report makes several policy recommendations for how states can each improve the quality of the early educator workforce.

Recommendations include establishing minimum educational requirements, creating compensation and benefit guidelines to ultimately raise early educator pay, and starting an educator workforce data to "gain a meaningful assessment of the reach and effectiveness of education and training opportunities and other supports for the workforce."

According to CSCCE’s site, the ultimate goal of the project is to inspire policy change that benefits the early educator workforce as a whole to consequentially benefit the quality of early education.

"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 report also includes an interactive map that rates each state on how they are doing in the following categories: compensation strategies, qualifications, workforce data, work environments and financial strategies.

When it comes to compensation strategies, for example, only one state (Oklahoma) is determined to be making headway by advancing promising policies.

To read the full report and check out the interactive map, see here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

7/7/2016

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