Childcare workers, essential for economic recovery, earn poverty wages in 40 states

Lavida Reaves worked as an early childhood educator at a day care center for over a decade, nurturing young minds and bodies daily through most of her twenties, and her parents earning a living in other professions.

At its peak, after earning an associate degree in early childhood education, Reeves said he earned $ 1,200 a month in a small community-based program in North Carolina. She loved the close community offered by her employer, the Excel Christian Academy. However, she simply failed to achieve her goals and earned a bachelor’s degree so that she could move on to work in the public school system.

“The only reason I left was because I couldn’t afford to take care of my family,” Reeves, 32, told CBS Money Watch. “I’m currently using the school system, so it’s $ 5,800 a month. It was a big leap.”

Lavida Reaves said she was unable to support her family while engaged in early childhood education at a day care center in North Carolina.

Lavida Reaves

Poverty level wages

She is not the only childcare worker who has quit her low-paying job in search of a living wage. Early childhood educators across the country earn a median wage of $ 11.65 per hour. 2020 Infant Labor Force Index From the Child Care Employment Research Center (CSCCE) at the University of California, Berkeley. Early black educators are paid an average of $ 0.78 less per hour than their white classmates, according to CSCCE reports.

CSCCE found that preschool teachers and child care center or kindergarten directors also earned low wages, and kindergarten teachers earned a median hourly wage of $ 32.80 in 2019, based on a Labor Statistics Department survey. Did. data..

According to the report, for one adult without children, the median wages for childcare workers are believed to be only liveable in 10 states. Researchers have found that the median difference between childcare and living wage thresholds in all states is $ -0.96 per hour.

“This predominantly female workforce has been at the mercy of under-investment for years, and much within this workforce must rely on public support to get through. The best before the pandemic. Even in time, early educators were already in the lowest domestic paid workers. ” Caitlin McLean, author of the CSCCE report, told CBS Money Watch.

McClean does not blame child care providers. About 80% of them are small community-based programs. Many are active even outside the caregiver’s home.

“They can’t raise wages because the economy isn’t working. Currently, parents across the country are already paying for childcare and can’t pay any more, but at the same time early educators subsidize the system. Their low wages are out. “

“Labor force that moves the labor force”

Underestimated but more important than ever, the early education workforce supports the economy by allowing parents with young children to enroll in the public school system and work on their own. , Says supporters of childcare reform.

Indeed, the shrinking industry during the pandemic has driven many working mothers out of their jobs and careers.Coronavirus is the cause of about 3 million Women leaving the U.S. workforce With an escape that reflects a broken childcare system for the past year.

“We are a workforce that drives the workforce. Without us, parents cannot continue to work, return to work, or even look for a job,” said North Carolina, director of the Excel Christian Academy. Davina Woods, a former employer of the state’s Reeve, said. ..

Part of the infrastructure

According to McLean, child care should be universal and federally funded, like the physical infrastructure of our society, including roads and broadband internet.

“We need to understand that we will need a significant increase in public funding and we need good services to pay for it,” she said.

Mr Woods said the pandemic only exacerbated a long-standing struggle within the industry. Many facilities were forced to close as families withdrew their children in fear of COVID-19, and the program incurred additional costs of improving sanitation and adhering to pandemic safety protocols.

In the first six months of the pandemic, nearly 200,000 childcare workers lost their jobs. As of August 2020, the industry is 20% smaller than in February of the same year, before the pandemic raged nationwide, according to CSCCE calculations.

“The industry is collapsing because there is no pipeline for the early education workforce. It’s not a viable option,” Woods said. “Nothing. We get low wages, a lack of benefits, and a lack of respect that doesn’t make it possible to maintain and maintain an educated workforce.”

According to Woods, most of her 14 employees, who teach about 50 children between the ages of 3 and 5, have second and third jobs in places like Target. .. Some people rely on federally funded housing and food programs.

“My teacher hasn’t raised his living wage yet because he doesn’t have the money to raise and stabilize his wages, so he has to do multiple jobs,” she said.

More support for working parents

According to prominent executives, businesses can also play a role in both resolving childcare crises and maintaining their talents.

David Merage, creator of HotPockets snacks and now head of the Consolidated Investment Group, believes companies should contribute to their employees’ childcare savings accounts, as many do with 401 (k) and health savings accounts. I am.

It is the company’s duty to help employees have access to childcare so that they can focus more on the work at hand and benefit the company in which they work. There should be.

“I want employees to be happy so they can focus on their work rather than worrying about it. [about child care]”Merage said.

Pyrena Hui, who is practicing childcare at her home in San Francisco with her husband Oscar Tan, said the pandemic only exacerbated existing financial challenges.

Pyrena Hui is a home-based childcare facility in San Francisco that reads to children in socially remote locations.

Courtesy of Pyrenahoi

In March, she only took care of one child, but her home facility can handle the usual 14 children. Her cost has also risen.

“I earned less when I had fewer families, but I had to buy more personal protective equipment and had to keep washing my hands, which increased water bills and added to disinfect the facility twice a day. I had to pay a fee, “she said.

After that, the numbers recovered. She currently has nine children, but she is not currently paid because she is too far away to attend full class.

“For now, I’m not paying myself until I return to full capacity. At least now, our income is better than before and more parents are deciding to return to the program. “She said.

She agrees that workers like her have been largely ignored.

“Some people don’t understand the importance of childcare for economic recovery. Parents should be ready to go back to work, but they can’t go back if they don’t have enough childcare. Young babies are the same as school. Not. Older children can’t sit in front of a computer and do distance learning, “she said.

“Opportunity to reset and rebuild”

Child care businesses like Hoyts and Woods, whose plight is similar to many others across the country, have some to help raise workers’ wages while maintaining affordability for their families. Federal support is available.

“This is not the fault of individual providers struggling to provide care in the community in these impossible situations,” said Eijenpu, co-founder and secretary-general of the National Workers’ Alliance. I did. “Now that this pandemic has revealed how important the long-term care infrastructure is, all we have to do is invest public funds in these systems. This is the market alone. It’s an unsolvable need. This works. “

At the very least, the pandemic sheds light on how important childcare workers are to support a healthy economy, Pooh said.

“Now we are at this moment of rebuilding the economy and we have the opportunity to reset and rebuild our childcare infrastructure to support our families, our jobs and our workforce,” Pooh said.

Return with a heartbeat

Indeed, early childhood care providers can be passionate about the work they do, and if it only allows them to put food on the table, more people will work on it. Let’s do it.

Reeves, who is now part of the public school system, said he is still missing out on working with young children, despite his unmanageable income.

“Currently working in public school, I don’t think I have the same presence in children’s lives as I did in early childhood education that I was able to learn. [about] Each child teaches them and helps them learn at their own pace and in their own way. It’s no longer personal. ”

Had she not had the money, she would have returned with a heartbeat.

“I would rather be in a nursery school, but I can’t take care of my family that way. I have three sons after leaving the nursery school and entering school. My health care [benefit] Wow, it’s above. My wage rate is amazing now and I wouldn’t have been able to go home where I live now without taking the opportunity to do the job. It was blocking me. “

Childcare workers, essential for economic recovery, earn poverty wages in 40 states

Source link Childcare workers, essential for economic recovery, earn poverty wages in 40 states

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