Columbus, Ohio: Today, Groundwork Ohio released its newest report, The Workforce Behind the Workforce: Advancing the Early Childhood Education Profession in Ohio’s Child Care System. This new report explores state data on early childhood education professionals in Ohio, identifies the biggest challenges to advancing the profession, and identifies opportunities to better support early childhood educators in child care settings.
“The work of early childhood education professionals is complex, nuanced, and essential,” said Julia Hohner, communications and development director at Groundwork Ohio. “Quality child care not only lays the foundation for learning and healthy development in young children, it also provides critical workforce support to parents, without which no other industry can survive. And a fairly compensated and highly qualified early childhood education profession is key to making that happen.”
“Given what we know about how the brains of young children develop, it’s critical that individuals who work in early childhood education have a strong background in understanding how those brain pathways are created,” said Dr. Debra Brathwaite, the Dayton Foundation Del Mar Encore Fellow at Dayton-Montgomery County Preschool Promise. “Having a workforce that is highly qualified and understands early childhood development is crucial to developing the activities and environment that foster healthy development for young children in child care and preschool settings.”
Despite the important work more than 70,000 early childhood educators do to support children and families and with nearly half of professionals in child care settings having a degree or credential beyond a high school diploma, their average annual income is only $22,193 in Ohio. That’s less than half the state’s average income.
“We’ve always known the critical and essential work that early childhood educators do to transform outcomes for young children and provide essential supports for families,” added Kimberly Tice, executive director of Ohio AEYC. “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when early childhood educators’ work is more valuable than ever, now must be the time to address compensation, benefits, and recognition for the early childhood education field.”
“The investments we make early on for our youngest Ohioans really do pay off in the future,” added State Senator Stephanie Kunze. “I’m excited to discuss some of the ideas the report is going to drive as it comes to creating policy in Ohio to ensure that our youngest Ohioans are getting the quality and the affordability for the care that they need for their little brains to develop and be kindergarten ready, but also for the ways we can elevate the workforce behind the workforce.”
In addition to sharing statewide data and highlighting the significant challenges Ohio’s child care system faces when it comes to educating, retaining, and compensating early childhood educators, Groundwork also offers several recommendations for advancing the profession, including:
Securing public investment and identifying opportunities to increase compensation and benefits for early childhood educators.
Supporting early childhood education professionals’ advancement through career pathways.
Maintaining and increasing the capacity of a comprehensive professional development system.
Identifying additional opportunities for funding and strategic partnerships.
Committing to rigorous data collection.
Establishing policies tailored to support family child care providers’ practice.
Applying the principle of equity to Ohio’s child care system by ensuring that it supports diverse, competent, well-prepared, and well-supported early childhood education professionals.
Building early childhood education professionals’ power through a unified voice.
The full recording of the report’s release event can be found here.
The Workforce Behind the Workforce: Advancing the Early Childhood Education Profession in Ohio’s Child Care System report can be accessed here.
Groundwork Ohio is a committed, nonpartisan public-policy research and advocacy organization formed in 2004 that champions high-quality early learning and healthy development strategies from the prenatal period to age five, that lay a strong foundation for Ohio kids, families and communities.