Study concludes early childhood education in crisis
By Erica Holt, Bay City News Service
August 9, 2006
California's early care and education centers are increasingly
threatened due to an aging workforce and meager wages driving
high job turnover rates, according to a report released Tuesday.
The University of California at Berkeley and the California Child
Care Resource and Referral Network, funded by First 5 California,
collaborated on a sample survey of the state's some 130,000 workers,
mostly women in their mid-forties, who educate and take care of
about 750,000 infants and preschoolers.
The study revealed that one in four early childhood teachers
in California with a bachelor's degree is age 60 or older and
nearing retirement, as the state's population of children's ages
0 to 5 has increased by nearly 15 percent this decade.
According to the survey, the early childhood education teacher
turnover rate of 22 percent is twice that of the state public
K-12 school teachers.
The study also found wages for early childhood education teachers
to be comparatively low.
The average annual salary for centers' highest-paid teachers
with bachelor's or advanced degrees is $34,382, nearly $2,000
less than the average California public school kindergarten teacher
"While so many qualified teachers are aging out of the child
care profession, low salaries are preventing new teachers from
entering and staying in the field,'' said First 5 California Executive
Director Kris Perry in a statement.
Only 7 percent of teachers are age 29 or younger and the average
tenure is two years for providers licensed to care for four children,
and eight years for those licensed for eight children, the study
The study's authors conclude that while the educational profile
of California's early education workforce is varied, with about
25 percent of center-based teachers having college degrees or
higher and others holding lesser degrees, the current levels of
education exceed what the law requires.
According to the study, however, this "largely reflects
the relatively low standards currently set by California law.''
The study recommends that statewide and locally, plans for professional
development should reflect what teacher's need to know to take
care of young children and should incorporate the needs of a diverse
First 5 California has announced it will invest $150 million
to a program to continue development for preschool workers, following
the release of the survey.
The Field Research Corporation collected data from a random selection
of 1,800 licensed family child care homes and 1,921 centers statewide
out of the 37,366 active licensed homes and 8,740 active licensed
centers that as of January 2004 were listed with state-funded
child care resource agencies.
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