Highly educated… undercompensated

It has been my privilege to serve Wisconsin Early Childhood Association for the past 14 years. Our organization works to promote the critical importance of the child care profession and strengthen investments in the teachers who provide vital care and education to children from over 72% of Wisconsin’s families each day.

Child care professionals struggle against common misperceptions of their work.  Over time, I have heard variations on the following theme: “Child care providers are really just babysitters, aren’t they? Therefore, their compensation seems right in line, yes?”

Well, no.

In early July Wisconsin Early Childhood Association released a comprehensive study of early childhood teachers in Wisconsin. (Our last study was in 2010). The findings will make for some very different conversations.

table4-2
Take for example the education level of child care teachers. More than half – 52% – have an Associate degree or higher. This is more than the Wisconsin workforce in general in which 42% hold an Associate degree or higher.2  The education level of child care teachers has a considerable effect on the quality of teaching and on outcomes for our youngest children. Higher education at even greater levels for the early childhood profession is essential.
College graduateYet, there’s an unexplained pay gap. Wisconsinites with an Associate degree who work in fields other than early care and education can expect to earn $18/hour on average. However, degree-holders in early care and education can expect pay which averages $10/hour.  Annualized, child care teachers earn $17,000 less than other Wisconsinites with an Associates degree. The gap grows wider when comparing those in the field who hold a Bachelor’s degree  – $12/hour – versus those who hold that degree and work in another field – $22.80/hour. Annually, the child care teacher with the Bachelor’s degree earns fully $22,500 LESS.

Often I hear, “Well child care teachers don’t go into the field for money. They do the work because they love children.”  It’s a perception not unique to Wisconsin. A recent article in the New York Times described a conversation between a child care provider in New Mexico and a legislator she visited at the state Capitol to lobby for education funding:

“She remembered meeting with a senator who told her, ‘You don’t get into this for the money; you’re paid in love.’ ‘Really?’ she replied. ‘When my landlord comes, can I just give him a hug?’

  1. COWS, State of Working Wisconsin 2014 http://www.cows.org

Ruth Schmidt is Executive Director of Wisconsin Early Childhood Association and a registered lobbyist.

Higher Education Entry through Credit for Prior Learning

Research has found that the credit-based education of child care providers is an important factor linked with high-quality early education programs. Unfortunately, with high turnover, low compensation, and increasing higher education costs, it is difficult for the early education workforce to gain these credits.

In a recent paper by Wisconsin Early Childhood Association and Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, entitled Milestones: Advancements to Pathways for Early Childhood Higher Education, the option of credit for prior learning is discussed as one way to:

  • Recognize all the non-credit training and experience that early childhood providers already have!
  • Begin on a pathway of achieving more credits, or degrees, at a Wisconsin college
  • Have a clear starting point when considering credit-based education

Read the full paper here and keep checking our blog to learn about the progress that WI technical colleges are making in terms of what credit for prior learning options they will offer to providers!

Child Care Wellness Grant Opportunity- Group Child Care Programs

Wisconsin Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Child Care Wellness Sub-grants are now available and will be awarded to CACFP child care institutions (child care group centers, emergency shelters, at-risk sites, outside of school hours sites) through a competitive application process. Grant applications will be accepted until July 21, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. This grant opportunity is available through the WI Department of Public Instruction.

Want to learn more about the WI CACFP Child Care Wellness Sub-grant opportunities? Click here  to find the:

  • Grant Announcement Letter
  • Grant Application Form
  • Grant Application Instructional Guide
  • Other helpful resources to assist in the application process

Note: Wellness Sub-grant opportunities for family child care programs will be announced separately by the Wisconsin CACFP Sponsors Forum in the near future. If you are affiliated with a family child care program, keep checking back to our blog to find out when this opportunity is available (or call your CACFP Sponsor for more information).

Let’s Move! Child Care has Launched

Last week came the announcement of the “Let’s Move! Child Care” initiative, launched by First Lady Michelle Obama. Click here for more information about the initiative, ideas and resources for early educators, healthy eating tips, and physical activities for infants and toddlers!

The initiative has set the following five goals for all caregivers (parents, guardians, child care providers, etc) to strive towards:

  • Physical Activity: Provide 1-2 hours of physical activity throughout the day, including outside play when possible.
  • Screen Time: No screen time for children under two years.  For children age two and older, strive to limit screen time to no more than 30 minutes per week during child care, and no more than 1-2 hours total of quality screen time per day, the amount recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Food: Serve fruits or vegetables at every meal, eat meals family-style when possible, and no fried foods.
  • Beverages: Provide access to water during meals and throughout the day, and do not serve sugary drinks.  For children age two and older, serve low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk, and no more than one 4-6 ounce serving of 100% juice per day.
  • Infant feeding:  For mothers who want to continue breastfeeding, provide their milk to their infants and welcome them to breastfeed during the child care day; and support all new parents in their decisions about infant feeding.

Internet Access Grant Opportunity- City of Milwaukee Child Care Programs!

The Public Service Commission (Commission) of Wisconsin has awarded a grant to the Celebrate Children Foundation (CCF) to help fund internet connectivity to child care centers in the city of Milwaukee. CCF will reimburse programs for internet expenses so that programs have more money to purchase things like curriculum materials, teacher training, and healthy food for children.

CCF would like to support 70 programs with this grant with up to $50 per month. To qualify, a child care center must:

    1. Serve low-income children &/or families in Milwaukee,
    2. Participate in YoungStar, the state’s new quality rating and improvement system,
    3. Provide copies of their Internet provider receipts (in six month increments),
    4. Adhere to all grant deadlines, and
    5. Be willing to respond to a post-grant survey.

Grant applications are due to CCF by June 30, 2011. Please visit their website for more information on this opportunity, as well as application instructions.

YoungStar Training is Here!

Training designed to help you prepare to be rated for YoungStar, or for anyone wishing to learn ways to improve the quality of your child care program.
WECA MIlwaukee is sponsoring trainings on…
• YoungStar Overviews to get you started
• Wisconsin Model Early Learning (WMELS)
• SEFEL Pyramid Model for Developmental Social Emotional Competence
• Family Involvement
• Child Outcomes, Portfolios and Curriculum
• Environment Rating Scales
• Business Practices
• Click here to learn more and to register for a WECA Milwaukee YoungStar training!

Not in the Milwaukee area? Click here for a listing of available YoungStar trainings statewide- all organized by members of the YoungStar consortium.