Advancing the Early Education Workforce

Young children develop and learn through their relationships with the adults in their lives – their parents, family members and their early childhood teachers when they are enrolled in child care programs. Early educators have the enormous responsibility of safeguarding and facilitating the development of our state’s youngest children, many of whom spend the majority of their waking hours in child care while their parents work. While many teachers have the knowledge, skills and resources to provide consistent, nurturing and positive relationships, too many others are not qualified and lack specific early childhood educational knowledge and skills.

Most infant toddler teachers are also woefully underpaid, earning an average of $10.00 per hour for the important work they do, even if they have degrees. This leads to turnover and instability in the classroom, as well as a workforce crisis as child care programs struggle to attract and retain qualified teachers due to low wages.

In order to provide young children with high-quality early learning experiences, teachers must be well educated, well compensated, and have the skills needed to support healthy development.

Key Things to Know:
  • The current requirement for lead teachers is a high school diploma and just 1 course in early childhood.
  • 44% of teachers have relied on some form of public assistance.
  • Infant toddler teachers, even those with a Bachelor’s degree, are paid about $4 less per hour than similarly qualified early educators working with preschool children.
  • 1 in 5 teachers predicts they will leave the field in 3 years, and enrollment in community college early education programs has dropped by 43%.

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During the 2019 legislative session, a historic, bipartisan bill to support early educators – H882 – was passed by the NC House of Representative in a unanimous 111-0 vote in May. This bill is the first of its kind for the early childhood system and early childhood teachers, and strengthens our workforce through increased education standards and compensation. It has since been added to Senate Bill S212, and thanks to the hard work of advocates across the state, it also passed the House in a unanimous vote 113-0 in July.

Click here to read S212/H882.


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Why Does Child Care Cost So Much Yet Providers Make So Little?

This video from Child Care Aware of America addresses a common question. Why do parents spend so much on child care, yet early childhood teachers earn so little? The average cost of child care is out of reach for many families and rivals college tuition, while early educators are among the lowest paid workers in the country. How is this possible?