Hiring QUALIFIED staff is a long-term issue. As the industry has grown into a combination of early care and education, we have had to meet higher standards that have been put in place to improve the quality of licensed child care. Some of these requirements start at the federal level and trickle down to the states as they are given federal funds that are provided by what is called the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG). For years states have worked to build paths to get child care workers financial assistance in earning Associates and Bachelors degrees in early childhood education (ECE). However, due to the public schools’ struggle to also hire QUALIFIED teachers we often lose the individuals that get their Bachelors degree in ECE to elementary schools. You can’t blame them as those individuals work less days and hours but are paid substantially more and have benefits including retirement funds.
Did you know that a Bachelor’s Degree in Education is the lowest paid profession that requires a 4-year degree? This is one of the reasons less and less people are choosing teaching as a profession. In fact, I am hearing of colleges that are not seeing the numbers in enrollment for this profession to even offer these programs. HERE is a news article about a college in Oklahoma that did this just recently. Many school districts are also having to certify individuals with degree’s outside of education to fill their many vacancies.
The bottom line is teachers and individuals caring for children are at the bottom of the pay scales yet the work is mentally and physically waring. This problem will not go away on its own with or without a pandemic because it has been building for several years. As pay scales go up in other professions this will only get worse unless more federal and state dollars are budgeted for children’s needs. For reference HERE is information regarding the children’s overall budget created by First Focus (this includes education, child care, medical care, homelessness, foster care, food needs, and any and all other things that are needed for children). It is a very low percentage of our overall budget for years running.