Should Early Childcare Workers Be Paid More? (2023)

There is an odd disparity between the expectations placed on early childhood learning and the willingness to invest financially in the outcome.

Unfortunately, financial compensation for early childhood educators has changed little in the past 25 years. Even today, according to the U.S. Department of Education, "Preschool teachers are paid less than mail order clerks, tree trimmers and pest control workers. Child care workers make less than hairdressers and janitors." Despite the fact that they are responsible for the care, education and safety of children, many qualify for public assistance.

This strange gap between responsibility and compensation begs the question asked by The Century Foundation: "At a time when children are most dependent and vulnerable, why are their caretakers and educators compensated so poorly, almost guaranteeing a workforce marked by high turnover and instability?"

Leaders and administrators who manage daycare and preschool facilities must be aware of the arguments on both sides of this difficult situation. They must be fully informed about the daily challenges faced by their staff members, both in and outside of work, while keeping a budget balanced. They have the responsibility to be fiscally aware of the facility's finances and limitations, while maintaining the role of advocate for all members of the education teams.

So Why Are Early Childcare Workers Paid so Poorly?

Many teachers in the childcare profession believe they are not receiving equitable pay when compared with their elementary and high school counterparts, despite the requirement that they be well-trained, even to the point of earning a degree.

The case can be made, however, that preschool teachers do not have the same responsibilities or oversight as K-12 teachers. In the first place, although committed preschool teachers do keep careful records of student progress and communicate successes and concerns with families, they are not required by law to log and report specific essential skills and understandings, as are public school teachers. They are not held responsible for student progress. Preschool teachers do not prepare complicated report cards or attend data meetings on the same scale required of public school teachers.

(Video) Early childhood educators fed up and fleeing the job

Student-Teacher Ratios

The number of teachers required to meet standard student-teacher ratios suggested by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) are two or more times the number of teachers required in public schools. According to the NAEYC, there should be at least one teacher for every 10 students at the pre-school level. In daycare services for infants and toddlers, the number of children to be cared for by a single adult drops from 10 to only three to six. However, a study conducted in 2012 by the National Center for Education Statistics found that class sizes for elementary and high schools averaged from 21 to 27 students. In other words, a preschool must hire at least twice as many teachers for the same number of students as the public schools.

Given these facts, it may appear that daycare and preschool teachers are paid adequately for what they do. Some might disagree, however, citing several reasons, including increasing requirements for caregiver and teacher preparation, the need for quality teacher retention and the impact preschool teachers have on the future of their students.

Increasing Requirements for Caregivers and Preschool Teachers

Licensed daycare facilities must adhere to strict requirements set forth by each state. In many states, the educational, experience and continuing education requirements for administrators and teachers are increasing with each revision of the laws. In Arkansas, for example, the education requirements were increased from 2011 to 2014. The 2014 regulations require that both the director and the assistant director meet strict education and/or experience criteria. This means that each facility must hire not just one but two highly-qualified leaders.

Preschool teachers meet even more stringent education requirements. In the state of Arkansas, there are specific and detailed educational and licensure steps that these educators must take. Yet, in Arkansas, the average yearly pay for a preschool teacher is $30,640, while teachers at the elementary through high school levels average $44,000 -- $47,000 per year.

Teacher Retention

A recent study by the Century Foundation states, "Consistent relationships with stable, responsible adults are important for children's healthy development." And consistent relationships are those that transcend the school year. Students thrive when they see and interact with "last year's teacher" on a regular basis, especially those children with special needs or those who experience inconsistent family relationships.

Students are not the only ones who form strong personal bonds. Teachers at all levels, and particularly with the very young, are passionate about their jobs and care deeply for those who depend on them. But, even the most devoted early childhood educators may seek more lucrative careers after experiencing the challenging work for such low pay.

(Video) Quick Study: Who earns more — early childhood teachers or fast food workers?

These situations, in which staff members come and go, lead to broken relationships for the students and time-consuming and costly employee searches and training periods.

This argument is also applicable for daycare workers. In 2015, these workers, mostly women and people of color, earned $10.72 an hour. When comparing this pay to that of fast food cooks, who averaged $9.43 an hour and cashiers at $10.10 an hour, those who care for what some call "the most vulnerable" are not adequately compensated for their time or level of responsibility.

Quality Teachers, Quality Futures

According to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, "…as scientific understanding of the profound influence of children's early years on brain development, behavior and learning has grown exponentially, it has become a high-stakes concern to assure that our nation's ECE settings provide high-quality, enriching experiences for young children." Providing this high-quality and enriching experience requires that the teachers and care providers are well-trained and well-paid. And those attributes do not come at small expense.

In part, the quality of care and education children receive in the earliest years of development determine their success. In 2014, the homes of 60 percent of families with children were led by two working parents, and there were 2.1 million single working mothers with children under six. When there are this many young children in need of care, it is important to consider the gravity of early childhood experiences. In order to have a positive impact on the lives of children, teachers of the youngest students should receive equitable pay. At a time when children are most dependent and vulnerable, why are their caretakers and educators compensated so poorly, almost guaranteeing a workforce marked by high turnover and instability?

As a graduate student preparing to lead as an administrator in a preschool, you will face compensation issues on both sides of the table. An online Master of Science in Early Education Services degree provides training in not only the educational aspects of preschool services but also the administrative responsibilities you will face regarding fiscal management. After completing this program, you will be well-prepared to address the concerns of all stakeholders, including the issue of teacher and staff compensation.

Learn more about A-State's Online Master of Science in Early Childhood Services.

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nprEd: It Doesn't Pay to Be an Early-Childhood Teacher

National Association for the Education of Young Children: Teacher-Child Ratios

National Association for the Education of Young Children: Critical Facts About Early Childhood Workforce

U.S. Department of Education: Fact Sheet: Troubling Pay Gap for Early Childhood Teachers

The Century Foundation: Quality Jobs, Quality Child Care

(Video) Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas Is You (Make My Wish Come True Edition)

PayScale: Preschool Teacher, (but not Special Education) Salary

SoCal Public Radio: Preschool Teachers Among Lowest Paid Despite Degrees

Center for the Study of Child Care Employment: Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years After the National Child Care Staffing Study

National Center for Education Statistics: Fast Facts -- Teacher Trends

Arkansas Department of Human Services: Minimum Licensing Requirements for Child Care Centers Requirements for Early Childhood Education Jobs in Arkansas

(Video) Where Children Must Work - Tropic Of Cancer - Episode 5 Preview - BBC Two Research Salaries in Arkansas

Sokanu: Preschool Teacher Salary in Arkansas


Why do nursery workers get paid so little? ›

“The main reason for low pay and a lack of progression is that providers are hamstrung by their biggest customer, the Government, which does not pay sufficiently for nurseries to deliver funded places.

What is the biggest challenge for childcare staff? ›

Top 12 Challenges Faced by Childcare Owners
  • Non-compliance in licensing.
  • Childcare paperwork.
  • Poor progress tracking.
  • Subpar health standards.
  • Lack of communication with guardians.
  • Ineffective incident reporting.
  • Safety measures not in place.
  • Understaffing.

What would you say is the hardest part about childcare? ›

Example: “I find disciplining bad behavior the most difficult aspect of child care, but I understand it takes time to gain control and respect of the children.”

What are three important qualities that childcare workers need? ›

5 Skills & Qualities a child care worker must have
  • Decision – making skills. While taking care of children there are going to be many situations where the child care worker must act quickly and make an appropriate judgment to fix the problem. ...
  • Being patient.
  • Communication skills.
  • Monitoring skills.
  • Being enthusiastic.

Do nursery teachers get paid well? ›

The average salary for Nursery Teacher jobs in London is £21,000. Read on to find out how much Nursery Teacher jobs in London pay across various industries and compare against other locations in the UK. We have 786 jobs paying higher than the average Nursery Teacher salary!

Do nursery teachers get paid less? ›

The average Nursery teacher salary in London is £27,630. This is 0.6% less than the average national salary for Nursery teacher jobs. The average London Nursery teacher salary is 36% less than the average salary across London.

What is the biggest problem with early childhood education? ›

Simply put, the biggest issue that faces early childhood educators is this: There is a misalignment between expectations on early childhood educators and the resources provided to meet these expectations.

What challenges do childcare workers face? ›

The childcare challenges experienced by centers, families, and providers are defined by a low supply of childcare workers, cost inflation for both staff and services, and a persistent shortage of affordable childcare options for families.

What questions should I ask at the end of a childcare interview? ›

  • Has the Daycare Violated Any Health Codes? Ask questions about any previous or current sanctions related to the daycare's adherence to health codes. ...
  • What Is the Potential for Advancement? ...
  • Do Parents Support the Daycare Center's Actions? ...
  • Be Flexible.

What are the biggest challenges of working with children? ›

10 biggest challenges you face working in childcare
  • Not enough time in the day to do everything.
  • Too much paperwork.
  • Not enough time spent with the children.
  • Difficulty recruiting staff who are qualified.
  • Not getting enough support.
  • Difficulties in communicating with parents.
11 Mar 2016

What are 5 skills you need as an early childhood educator? ›

Top skills and qualities needed to become a great educator
  • While working in early childhood education can involve lots of fun caring for and engaging with children, the reality of life as an educator goes far beyond playing in the sandpit. ...
  • Critical thinking. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Growth mindset. ...
  • Reflectiveness.
23 Feb 2021

What is the most important in an early care for children? ›

Close attention should be given to emotional and developmental problems so that early interventions can be integrated into the child's routine. The child care setting should also provide a healthy and safe physical environment with a high adult-child ratio to ensure children's well-being.

What makes a good childcare worker? ›

Dedication towards the job is the main factor you need to take into account. This is important. Remember to pay attention to the children, advice from staff and listen carefully to what parents have to say.

What is the lowest salary for a preschool teacher? ›

How much does a Preschool Teacher make in the United States? The average Preschool Teacher salary in the United States is $36,390 as of October 27, 2022, but the range typically falls between $32,910 and $41,430.

Do you make good early childhood teachers? ›

Patience, communication, and a love of young children are just a few of the qualities you'll need if you want to become an early childhood educator. Young children move a mile a minute, aren't always the best listeners, and are learning just about everything as if it's brand new.

What is the highest paid preschool teacher? ›

Highest-Paid Preschool Teachers By State
RankStateAverage Preschool Teacher Salary
3New York$40,587
4New Mexico$38,878
46 more rows
2 Aug 2022

Are teachers the lowest paid one? ›

Even when adjusted for benefits, teachers were still paid drastically less than other college graduates. With benefits like retirement packages and health care included, teachers' overall compensation was still 14.2 percent lower than that of their peers.

Is working in a nursery stressful? ›

Stressful but rewarding

Expect to stay over your hours most days and not hear a thank you. Hard hard hard work for minimum wage.

Are nursery workers getting a pay rise? ›

From 1 April all staff salaries will be increased by 3.5 per cent. This applies to permanent and temporary staff as well as apprentices.

What causes stress in early childhood educators? ›

A University of Nebraska study shared three leading causes of stress for early childhood educators: powerlessness in decision-making, the inescapable responsibility of teaching, and the lack of respect from people outside the profession.

Is being a preschool teacher worth it? ›

Making a difference never gets old. Being a preschool teacher can sometimes seem thankless at times, but the rewards are worth it. Whether it's rambunctious greetings in the mornings or the proud look on a child's face after they mastered that new skill, every preschool teacher has a favorite part of the job.

What is the most significant challenges as an educator? ›

Lack of teamwork, little personal time, working toward long-term goals, conflicts, and student justifications are a few of the usual classroom issues teachers deal with. By addressing these typical classroom issues, educators can increase teacher retention rates, student success rates, and educational quality overall.

What are two current trends affecting early childhood education? ›

Current trends in early childhood education include incorporating early literacy, introducing children to science education, and exposing kids to an integrated curriculum. These trends help students to prepare for future learning experiences in the K-12 environment.

What questions do you get asked in a childcare interview? ›

Operational and Situational questions
  • What do you like most about working with children?
  • What do you like least about working with children?
  • What age groups do you prefer to work with?
  • Describe a time you resolved an issue with an unhappy parent.
  • What's the relationship between customer service and child care?

What are the disadvantages of being a childcare worker? ›

Cons of Being a Childcare Worker
  • Pay Is Not Always Good. ...
  • You May Get Sick a Lot. ...
  • Working with Children Can Be Stressful. ...
  • Curriculum Can Get Tedious. ...
  • Cleanup Can Be Gross. ...
  • Parents Can Be Demanding. ...
  • Opportunities Vary Depending on Your Education.

Why is working at a daycare so hard? ›

Physical demands: Day care work can be physically demanding, as well. Depending on your role, you may have to lift babies and small children, crouch down to speak with them at their eye level, be able to hear and see them well and also get hands-on to play and care for them.

How would you describe yourself in 5 words? ›

“If I have to describe myself in 5 words I would say I am attentive, reliable, able, creative, and hardworking. I have been working for a magazine for the past 2 years.

How do I pass a childcare interview? ›

The interview
  1. Always arrive on time to the interview. ...
  2. Try to stay relaxed. ...
  3. Be polite and professional. ...
  4. Give detailed answers to questions. ...
  5. Try to keep eye contact. ...
  6. Stay for a play session if asked by the Nursery. ...
  7. Be prepared to ask some questions of your own. ...
  8. Thank them.
8 Jul 2015

Why do you want to work in childcare best answer? ›

Example: Your commitment to inspiring a life-long love of learning resonates with me. Children form their attitudes to education early, and I'd like to be part of the reason they want to know more about the world around them.

How do you usually handle misbehaving children? ›

10 healthy discipline strategies that work
  1. Show and tell. Teach children right from wrong with calm words and actions. ...
  2. Set limits. ...
  3. Give consequences. ...
  4. Hear them out. ...
  5. Give them your attention. ...
  6. Catch them being good. ...
  7. Know when not to respond. ...
  8. Be prepared for trouble.
5 Nov 2018

How do you overcome challenges in early childhood education? ›

How to Overcome the Challenges of Teaching Preschoolers
  1. Maintaining the Attention of Young Kids. One of the biggest challenges of teaching preschoolers is retaining the attention of your students. ...
  2. Managing Misbehavior in the Classroom. ...
  3. Communicating with Family Members. ...
  4. Surviving the Physical Demands of the Job.
25 Mar 2021

What is the most important task as an early childhood teacher? ›

Duties and Responsibilities

Plans and prepares classroom setting; oversees safety and educational programs; supervises children in the classroom; provides a supportive environment in which children can learn and practice appropriate and acceptable individual and group behaviors.

What strengths do you need to work in childcare? ›

Examples of child care worker skills
  • Communication. Communicating with children requires you to convey ideas and instructions in ways that are easy for them to understand. ...
  • Problem-solving creativity. ...
  • Patience. ...
  • Physical energy. ...
  • Teaching. ...
  • Monitoring. ...
  • Planning. ...
  • Leadership.
25 Jun 2021

What makes a great early childhood educator? ›

Be passionate, authentic and love learning

You will need to have a love of teaching, but also a love of learning. Children will respond well to someone who is passionate about teaching and helping them learn. Strong dedication and devotion to your work will lead to great learning outcomes for children.

What are the most important goals of early childhood education? ›

What is the purpose of early childhood education? Simply put, the purpose of ECE is to provide children with strategies that help them develop the emotional, social and cognitive skills needed to become lifelong learners.

What are the 5 reasons why ECE is important? ›

Here are 5 benefits of early childhood education in Nigeria
  • Improved Social Skills.
  • Eagerness to learn.
  • Encouraging Holistic Development.
  • Boost Self-Confidence.
  • Enhanced Attention Span.
13 Dec 2021

What are three important skills that childcare workers should have? ›

Here are several important skills that child care workers commonly have:
  • Communication skills. ...
  • Planning and instruction. ...
  • Creative thinking. ...
  • Decision-making skills. ...
  • Problem-solving skills. ...
  • Analytical skills. ...
  • Compassion and empathy. ...
  • Organizational skills.

How can I be successful in childcare? ›

9 expert tips for running your daycare
  1. Put yourself in the parents' shoes. ...
  2. Consistently encourage reviews from your clients. ...
  3. Invest in your staff. ...
  4. Keep your environment clean and safe. ...
  5. Maintain a detailed handbook. ...
  6. Acquire quality tools. ...
  7. Embrace social media. ...
  8. Make important information easily accessible online.
15 Feb 2017

Is working in a nursery hard? ›

Nurseries are interesting and unique places, they can be busy, noisy, fun and challenging. A typical day in a nursery is marked by a regular set of tasks and duties which change over the course of the weeks/months but on the main follow a routine.

How much do nursery workers get paid UK? ›

Average £20,291 per year

Is this useful?

What is the best thing about working in childcare? ›

You get to see children's development and learning firsthand as children grow and flourish under your care. In many families parents rely on childcare so they can work, so they entrust you with their children – and what a privilege it is to play a role in children's lives during those vital first five years.

What are the common problem in nursery? ›

Common Problems in the Newborn Nursery is designed to be an easy-to-use, practical guide, covering a full range of clinical dilemmas: bacterial and viral infections, jaundice, hypoglycemia, hypotonia, nursery arrhythmia, developmental dysplasia of the hips, newborn feeding, cardiac problems, late preterm infants, ...

What is the most difficult part about working with children? ›

10 biggest challenges you face working in childcare
  • Not enough time in the day to do everything.
  • Too much paperwork.
  • Not enough time spent with the children.
  • Difficulty recruiting staff who are qualified.
  • Not getting enough support.
  • Difficulties in communicating with parents.
11 Mar 2016

Why do people want to work in a nursery? ›

Nursery Practitioners feel they help to give children that valuable start in life to a good education, helping children to develop their social skills in a safe and a caring environment that promotes learning through play. It is these key values that we look for in a candidate.

What strengths do you need to work in a nursery? ›

Skills and qualities
  • Stamina and energy.
  • To be patient, tolerant and resilient.
  • Flexibility.
  • A sense of fun, and creativity and imagination to provide activities.
  • Communication skills.
  • To be caring, understanding and able to give encouragement.

How much do childcare workers get paid? ›

The starting salary of a Childcare Worker in Ireland is around €10.35 gross per hour.

What is the new pay scale for childcare workers? ›

The Orders will commence on 15 September 2022, providing new minimum hourly rates as follows: €13 for Early Years Educators/School-Age Childcare practitioners. €14 for Early Years Lead Educators /School-Age Childcare co-ordinators.

How much do nursery carers make? ›

The average salary for a Nursery Nurse is £21,197 in London, UK.

What Do you call a Person who works at a nursery? ›

nurseryman. / (ˈnɜːsrɪmən) / noun plural -men. a person who owns or works in a nursery in which plants are grown.

How much do nursery assistants get paid UK? ›

Average £76.93 per day.

How much do nursery teachers get paid UK per hour? ›

The average nursery teacher salary in the United Kingdom is £33,341 per year or £17.10 per hour. Entry level positions start at £26,153 per year while most experienced workers make up to £44,210 per year.


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