How state policies shortchange early educators — and millions of kids

Policies in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., shortchange the 2 million educators who are shaping the future of 12 million children in childcare and preschool across the nation, according to a report released today by UC Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment.

“Early educators’ skills, knowledge and well-being are inseparable from the quality of children’s early-learning experiences,” said Marcy Whitebook, CSCCE’s director and one of the study’s authors. “But states are failing to provide the combination of appropriate compensation, professional work environments and training teachers need to help children succeed.”

Early educators are among the lowest-paid workers in the country, the center reports. Nearly half of all childcare workers are in families that participate in at least one public-assistance program, such as Medicaid or food stamps, as compared to 26 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Beyond appraising state policies and workforce status, the report offers recommendations for improving early-childhood jobs and the early-learning opportunities of millions of children.

“Without transforming policies that shape how we prepare, support and pay early educators,” warned Whitebook, “the 21st-century goal of quality early-learning opportunities for all children will remain elusive.”

Visit the CSCCE website for individual state profiles and an interactive map that displays state-by-state data on earnings and the policy categories assessed.

Early Childhood Workforce Index