Why are child care workers hard to find?

Our child care workforce is the key to our economic recovery. But parents can’t find providers to care for their children, and programs are struggling to survive.

Early childhood professionals fulfill one of the most important roles in society – nurturing and educating the next generation. Yet they are among the most poorly compensated in the country. 

The majority of infant and toddler educators and family child care operators earn poverty-level wages.* Child care workers in New Jersey make as little as $32,080 per year. And the realities and drastic effects of burnout is a real challenge nationwide. A majority of those working with infants and toddlers (almost 80%) believe that exhaustion is exacerbating the concerns of retaining qualified teachers, leading to additional problems of supply. 

The child care crisis is an equity issue – across the nation, 40% of child care workers are people of color. Black child care providers earn an average 78 cents less per hour compared to their white counterparts, even when controlling for education level. 

The high cost of running a program leaves many providers operating on razor-thin margins – unable to pay their teachers what they’re worth at a price that families can afford. This has led to limited staff, high turnover, and empty classrooms.

If we want our children to be successful, we need to invest in the people who care for them.

Are you struggling to find child care? Send a message to your legislators telling them to invest more in those who care for our youngest learners. 

*The poverty threshold used for the entire nation does not account for the higher cost of living in certain states like New Jersey, where 200% of the poverty threshold, or an annual income of roughly $55,000 for a family of four, is more reflective of the families struggling to make ends meet.