The National Governor’s Association awarded a small grant to the Minnesota Department of Education to examine methods to increase compensation for the early childhood workforce. A workgroup was appointed in 2016 and included commissioners from the departments of education (MDE), human services (DHS) and health (MDH as well as community partners. The Governor’s Children’s Cabinet helped to staff the work group. The work group identified funding needs and mechanisms to support a sustainable early childhood workforce compensated at a level commensurate with their educational attainment and the responsibilities of their position. The recommendations have been forwarded to Governor Mark Dayton and will be released on this website as soon as the report is made public.
Currently, early childhood care and education jobs pay low wages. Wages have not kept up with the demands placed on early childhood staff given new research and information about the importance of the foundation set in early childhood. In a recent report called Worthy Work, Still Unworthy Wages, Marcy Whitebook points out features of early childhood jobs that need new approaches. She highlights: low wages, low value accorded to educational attainment, pervasive economic insecurity and extensive reliance on public income support resulting from unlivable wages.[i]
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in Minnesota, child care workers earned an average of $10.32 per hour and preschool teachers earned $15.41 per hour in May 2011. According to Education Minnesota, the average salary for a K-12 teacher in the state was $53,680 for the 2010-11 school year. This comes to $25.80 per hour assuming a full-time, year-round employment or $34.41 per hour assuming a full-time, nine-month work period.[ii]
Poor compensation for early childhood staff remains a persistent problem affecting people of Minnesota in a variety of ways. Potential impact of continued poor compensation includes:
- Preventing many promising individuals from entering and staying in the field.
- Forcing teachers and providers to struggle to meet the financial needs of their own families. When teachers and providers experience stress due to their financial situtation, they do not react to children and challenges that arise in optimal ways.
- Without talented, highly skilled teachers and providers, we will have difficulty delivering on promises regarding return on investment and child outcomes.
- Rural employers experience difficulty filling job openings in their businesses due to lack of child care in their communities. If parents can’t put their children in child care, they can’t work.
[i] Marcy Whitebook, Deborah Phillips, and Carollee Howes, Worthy Work, STILL Unlivable Wages: The Early Childhood Workforce 25 Years after the National Child Care Staffing Study, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF CHILD CARE EMPLOYMENT, 2014 http://www.irle.berkeley.edu/cscce/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/ReportFINAL.pdf
[ii] Wilder Research, Child Care Workforce in Minnesota, August 2012, https://www.wilder.org/Wilder-Research/Publications/Studies/Child%20Care%20Workforce%20in%20Minnesota,%202011%20Study/2011%20Statewide%20Study%20of%20Demographics,%20Training%20and%20Professional%20Development.pdf