From The Washington Post:
The people who are paid watch America’s children tend to live in poverty. Nearly half receive some kind of government assistance: food stamps, welfare checks, Medicaid. Their median hourly wage is $9.77 — about $3 below the average janitor’s.
In a new report, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley warn that child care is too vital to the country’s future to offer such meager wages. Those tasked with supporting kids, they explain, are shaping much of tomorrow’s workforce.
“Economic insecurity, linked to low wages, remains endemic among those who care for and educate young children from birth to elementary school,” the authors wrote. “This condition has endured despite a much-altered landscape in which developmental scientists, economists, and business and labor leaders have widely recognized the importance of early care and education in shaping children’s development, promoting the health of families, and building a strong economy.”
In the United States, roughly 2 million adults make a living by caring for and educating more than 12 million children, infants to 5-year-olds. Last year, 46 percent of child-care workers were part of families enrolled in at least one public safety net program, compared with 26 percent of those in the broader workforce. Low pay contributes to a revolving door of staffers. The average annual turnover rate among early childhood education staffers, for example, hovers around 30 percent.
Wages remain paltry even among the college-educated workforce. Early childhood education is the college major that yields the lowest lifetime pay.
Marcy Whitebrook, director of Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, who co-wrote the report, said these economic conditions aren’t …