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.
Yet early educators are woefully underpaid and undervalued for the important work they do, earning poverty-level wages without benefits even with degrees. North Carolina is facing an unprecedented workforce crisis, with fewer people entering the early childhood field and qualified teachers leaving the field at high rates. Low compensation is the number one reason why early educators are not returning to the classroom, and one in three qualified teachers report they will leave the field in the next three years.This leads to turnover and instability in the classroom, impacting both child care programs and the young children they serve.
Professional compensation and benefits for the early childhood workforce are urgently needed to attract and retain high-quality early educators to support young children’s healthy development.
Key Things to Know:
- Child care teachers, overwhelmingly women and primarily women of color, earn an average of just $12 per hour – less than $25,000 per year – even though 62% of the early childhood workforce has at least an associate’s degree.
- One in five teachers doesn’t have health insurance, and 38% of teachers have relied on some form of public assistance.
- Child care teachers are 7 times more likely to live in poverty than public school kindergarten teachers.
- Teachers working with infants and toddlers earn the least, regardless of educational level. This wage gap disproportionately affects people of color, who are more likely to work with younger age groups.
- There is an acute workforce shortage and the talent pipeline is shrinking. 1 in 5 teachers predicts they will leave the field in 3 years.