New Report Finds State Policies Shortchange Early Educators, Undermining Quality of Early Learning for California’s Young Children

07.07.2016 | Early Edge California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2016

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Diana Chun, Communications Director
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New Report Finds State Policies Shortchange Early Educators, Undermining Quality of Early Learning for California’s Young Children

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment releases state-by-state analysis of early education employment conditions and policies, outlines strategies for building  strong early childhood teaching workforce

(Oakland, CA)—In California, early childhood workforce policies shortchange the more than 107,000 members of the early childhood teaching workforce, and subsequently hinder positive school and life outcomes for the state’s 3 million children birth through age 5, according to a new report from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSSCE) at the University of California, Berkeley.

“High-quality early education and care is a must have for our young children and working families, yet California woefully underinvests in the educators who teach and care for them,” said Deborah Kong, president of Early Edge California. “Early educators are society’s brain builders – we urgently need state policies and investments that provide them with the skills and supports they need to promote the best outcomes for our children.”

The Early Childhood Workforce Index, the first-ever comprehensive state-by-state analysis of early childhood employment conditions and policies, shows that California falls short on a number of measurable indicators, which include earnings, early childhood workforce policies, and family and income support policies.

The Index offers recommendations for policymakers and stakeholders to ensure high-quality early care and education, which include advancing the preparation of the early educator workforce through education, training, and career pathways.

“Early educators’ skills, knowledge, and well-being are inseparable from the quality of children’s early learning experiences,” said Marcy Whitebook, director of CSCCE and one of the study’s authors. “But states across the country are largely failing to provide the combination of appropriate compensation, professional work environments, and training that teachers need to help children succeed.”

This year, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus made investments in young children, families, and providers a top budget priority, recognizing the importance of early learning in lifting up both working mothers and the members of the early childhood workforce, who are predominantly  women. In the final budget, Governor Brown and Assembly and Senate leadership agreed on significant increases for early educators to keep up with the state’s minimum wage increases.

Early educators are among the lowest-paid workers in California. The median hourly wage for child care workers is $11.61, only 61% of the state median wage. Preschool teachers earn a median hourly wage of $15.25, but still earn less than half of what elementary school teachers make.

A California profile with state-specific findings is available, as well as an interactive map, which shows comparisons across states. The full Index and additional detail are posted on the CSCCE website.

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Early Edge California works to ensure all children have the early experiences necessary to be successful learners by the end of 3rd grade, setting them on a path to college and career readiness.

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California, Berkeley conducts research and proposes policy solutions aimed at improving how our nation prepares, supports, and rewards the early care and education workforce.

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