Facts In Action
Work to Improve Compensation and Retention
strongly suggests that the quality of child care is tied to wages,
education, and retention of teachers. Teachers with higher levels
of education tend to be paid more, and higher-paid teachers tend
to remain in the same job for a longer period of time. In addition,
the education level of teachers has been linked to quality of care.
However, in most child care settings, there is wide variation in
the qualifications of teachers.
to data from a recent national study, in 1997:
of teachers had a Bachelor's degree or higher,
had an Associate's degree,
had some college or vocational training, and
had a high school degree or less.
proportion of early childhood teachers with a college degree varies
largely depending on the child care setting. While 87% of teachers
who work in public schools had at least a Bachelor's degree, only
40% of Head Start teachers and 55% of teachers in programs run by
non-profits had a Bachelor's degree.
all early childhood teachers reported some training in early childhood
education. However, specific training in early childhood education
does not seem to make the greatest difference in the quality of
care children receive. In a recent study, researchers at Indiana
University explored the link between educational attainment and
teacher's beliefs about early childhood education. They found when
teachers had a higher education level, regardless of the major area
of study, they were more likely to support developmentally appropriate
practice. The researchers did find, however, that teachers with
coursework specific to working with young children were more likely
to support child-initiated learning such as allowing children to
select some of their own activities, valuing active exploration
in children's learning, and respecting students' individual differences
when planning curricula.
on these findings, researchers have suggested that while it is important
to provide specific training courses to professional care providers,
it may be more important to recruit highly-educated individuals
to the field. The ability to recruit highly-qualified teachers is
strongly tied to the ability to compensate them adequately, however.
Institute for Women's Policy recently examined local, state, and
federal programs that provide financial incentives to increase child
care staff education and retention.
the programs studied included a component that financially rewarded
participants for increasing their education and remaining at their
jobs, but the specific strategies used varied from program to program.
to improve workforce education and retention included: increasing
starting salaries, establishing minimum education and training requirements
for workers, linking professional development activities to bonuses
or pay increases, and providing access to credits towards a college
degree. The researchers found that each of these approaches were
related to increases in workers' income, retention, and education
level. In addition, the increases in compensation did not have to
be very large to have an impact on teacher retention. The researchers
speculate that workers who participate in these programs already
exhibit a stronger desire to stay in the field, so even small increases
in pay encouraged them to stay at their jobs. In some cases, the
initiatives were also linked to increases in quality of the applicant
pool and increased feelings of professionalism among participating
programs that helped workers attain further education also indirectly
benefited neighboring colleges and universities, which were able
to expand their early education programs. And higher wages might
have improved the lives of workers and their families. While few
policymakers are likely to prioritize improving worker well-being,
the researchers found that many program administrators are interested
in achieving these ends whether or not the improved wages
are related to improved care.
order to maximize the effectiveness of compensation programs, the
researchers identified challenges and made suggestions. Evaluations
revealed that some programs needed to review their funding structure
to ensure continuing service. Some initiatives also needed to improve
their outreach to the child care community, particularly to family
child care providers, rural child care providers, and providers
that do not speak English. Programs were not reaching as many participants
as they could because these populations are often unaware of compensation
programs. The researchers also noted the importance of working with
community colleges that offer courses in early childhood education
to ensure that they consider the hours of child care workers when
planning related class schedules.
"Demographic Characteristics of Early Childhood Teachers and
Structural Elements of Early Care and Education in the United States,"
G. Saluja, D. M. Early and R. M. Clifford, Early Childhood Research
and Practice, Spring 2002.
For more information:
Look online at ecrp.uiuc.edu/v4n1/saluja.html.
"Education Matters in the Nurturing of the Beliefs of Preschool
Caregivers and Teachers," M. B. McMullen and K. Alat, Early
Childhood Research and Practice, Fall 2002.
For more information:
Look online at ecrp.uiuc.edu/v4n2/mcmullen.html.
Building a Stronger Child Care Workforce: A Review of Studies
of the Effectiveness of Public Compensation Initiatives, J.
Park-Jadotte, S. C. Golin and B. Gault, Institute for Women's Policy
Contact: Institute for Women's Policy Research, 1707 L Street
NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20036, call (202) 785-5100, or look
online at www.iwpr.org.
Facts in Action, January/February 2003
|Goodbye from the printed version of Facts in Action.