NC Budget and Tax Center

Early childhood educators in NC struggle to make ends meet, afford their own children’s early education

One issue central to ensuring the quality of early childhood education is something that does not garner as much attention as available pre-K slots or the rate at which providers are reimbursed for care:  how much early childhood educators are paid.

Evidence shows that paying workers a living wageearly childhood educators in particular—can improve job performance and strengthen connections to work and employers.

In North Carolina, as in the rest of the country, early childhood educators face significant barriers to make ends meet. Nationwide, they earn just 39 cents for every dollar earned by workers in other occupations. This is compounded by the higher likelihood that early childhood educators do not have access to health care benefits or retirement plans.  They are also more  likely to live in poverty compared to similarly situated workers in other occupations. And North Carolina’s early childhood workers have seen their median wage decline in the recovery according to analysis presented in Education Week.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/early_years/child%20care%20wages.png

These maps from the Economic Policy Institute show that in nearly all North Carolina counties more than half of early childhood educators in either preschool or child care settings cannot afford the local cost of living on their hourly wage. In Buncombe and Henderson County, more than 65 percent of early educators in child care settings cannot afford local costs on their earnings.  In Brunswick County, more than 80 percent of early educators cannot afford local costs on their earnings. The failure of wages to keep up with costs of basic goods and services means that many workers will go without those basics or forced to close the gap by seeing support from family, charity, and public programs.

Early childhood programs also remain woefully out of reach for early childhood educators to send their own children based on analysis of median earnings. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ official affordability threshold for child care costs is 10 percent or less of a family’s income. In North Carolina, infant care represents 47 percent of a child care worker’s wages and 38 percent of a preschool worker’s wages.

Early childhood educators’ wages are an important marker of how well North Carolina is doing in delivering high quality childcare and providing for the well-being of young children. Proposals that boost the wages of qualified early educators are critical as is making sure that the state’s early childhood educators, like all of our workers, can make ends meet through work.

 

Check Also

Income tax rate cap amendment would cement N.C.’s missed opportunity in education

Imposing an arbitrary income tax rate cap in ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Having devastated the southeast coast of North Carolina, Hurricane Florence is now a tropical depres [...]

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has finally released its report and recommendations on minority [...]

Thousands of animal waste lagoons, hazardous waste sites and other repositories of toxic material li [...]

When the North Carolina Courts Commission meets Friday, it will begin to take a look at an issue mak [...]

On June 6, 1944, the day of the great Allied Forces D-Day invasion of France, many historians agree [...]

On Sunday, Governor Roy Cooper declared that affordable housing would be a key focus in the recovery [...]

The post A disastrous idea for storm-ravaged North Carolina appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

History has a habit of turning the tables on us. Economic strengths can become liabilities, and forc [...]