Low Wages for Child Care Workers

This week a Wall Street Journal blog, “The Juggle,” featured a thought provoking entry about how critical high-quality child care workers are and how poorly they are compensated for their work. “The Lowly Child-Care Worker” by Sue Shellenbarger reveals that a recent study by CareerCast.com compared 200 occupations (based on things like wages, working environment, and stress) and ranked child care workers in the 186th spot. She also mentions that “Child-care center directors’ median annual pay is only $34,233, according to Payscale.com, and child-care workers themselves make only $23,437, barely exceeding the federal poverty threshold for a family of four.” Read the full article here.

For anyone familiar with, or working in, the field of early education, this article is not surprising. The low wages reported are, in fact, very similar to the wages we recently found in a 2010 Wisconsin child care workforce study. According to the study, current median annual wages in the field are: $29,751 for center directors, $23,608 for group child care teachers, and $21,060 for family child care providers. Read the full workforce study brief here.

What do you think about wages in the early education field? Can they be increased by charging parents/families more or must there be other sources of funding (more public investment, more businesses that open child care facilities for their employees with private dollars)?

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