Impact on Early Childhood Professionals
- Early educators employed in private child care settings tend to be more women of color than the public education workforce.
- Lead teachers in private child care programs are three times more likely to be Black than lead teachers in public early ed programs (24% in child care vs. 8% in public ed).
- Pay of early care educators is low across the board but especially impacts those working in private child care. 39% of lead teachers in private child care programs had a household income less than $25,000 per year compared to 1% of lead teachers in public ECE programs.
Impact on Children
- Children of color are more likely to have a teacher who reflects their race/ethnic makeup when they attend a private child care program than a public school program. However, these teachers are less well-compensated and may face higher job turnover and uncertainty.
- Research has demonstrated that when educators are reflective of children’s race and ethnic background they can have a positive impact on a child’s learning trajectory.
- Early educators in private child care settings have expressed feeling that their roles are undervalued. They are undervalued for their role as educators and caregivers– professionals helping to nurture and develop young brains. They are undervalued in terms of compensation where the already high costs of care make passing cost increases on to tuition paying families challenging. And they feel undervalued in comparison to counterparts working in public settings who are likely to be better paid and less likely to be working in-person with children during the pandemic.
- Early educators are hopeful that additional child care resources can be directed to hazard pay or bonuses. However, private child care facilities are stretched to cover their costs with reduced parent fees, tuition and subsidy resulting from closures due the pandemic. Some educators have opted out of the field and to stay home with their children.
- Finally, early educators express high-levels of stress and burnout during this time when their work environment is changing and they are taking health and safety risks.
Increasing compensation of early educators.
Efforts to increase the compensation of early educators are tied to efforts to increase the minimum wage and teacher compensation. The delivery of early education services varies from self-employed educators to corporate sector employers to public school divisions. Finding policy solutions to impact compensation must apply to different settings and requires public investment to not pass on the cost increases to parents.
Continuing Governor Northam’s early educator incentive grants.
The Governor’s proposed budget includes a $5 million increase for the $1,500 incentive program connected to quality improvement initiatives. These incentives represent a 6% increase for an early educator earning $25,000 per year.
Funding the true costs of quality early care, including higher wages.
The state should consider alternative methods of using Child Care Development Funds to fund child care providers for the true costs associated with quality care. Increasing wages should be factor in proposed pilots to contract for care and fund for true costs.