|Sounding the Alarm on Child Care Collapse
Billions of dollars are at stake in the recent bank closures in the U.S. Financial forecasters are alarmed about the possible fallout without lawmaker action, including widespread layoffs and company closures.
Nearly $7 billion is at stake in Pennsylvania alone, not because of risky bank investments, but because of the ripple effects of a statewide child care sector near collapse. New extensive research validates what we’ve long known: low wages cause massive staffing shortages and kids on waiting lists…parents miss work, take lower paid jobs, or quit altogether…productivity takes a huge hit…the economy slumps.
Let’s look at the statewide numbers:
When you learn that the statewide average wage for early ed teachers is just $12.43/hour, the staff shortages are not surprising. There is NO county in the state where early ed teachers earn enough to cover basic living costs, even working full time. As a result, 65% of PA early ed teachers rely on SNAP, Medicaid, public assistance, or other benefits.
The constant worry about making ends meet takes a huge mental and emotional toll on early ed teachers who would much rather be focused on nurturing young minds. “Being an educator in early childhood education is bittersweet,” says Milagros Battiti, an early ed teacher. “I wake up every day the happiest I can be to see my students, but I debate whether that happiness is worth my financial struggle.”
This constant financial tightrope causes a significant mental and emotional burden for an overwhelming majority of all early ed teachers. A solid half of all them today – many with bachelor’s or master’s degrees – say they will likely leave their current position within five years.
Sheila Moses was one of those people who had to leave the sector. “As much as I loved working as an early childhood educator, the tension I experienced as a single parent was overwhelming. I worked full time but still needed welfare to support my family. I wasn’t living from paycheck to paycheck, I was barely making it from paycheck to paycheck.”
Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal includes $100 million in child care and pre-k funds, which will only act to keep the sinking sector afloat. Really solving the crisis and making sure parents have affordable, high-quality care requires $430 million to pay child care workers what they are worth, and $70 million to boost child care program quality.
State Senator Jimmy Dillon (D-Phila), and Representatives Joseph Hohenstein (D-Phila), Steve Samuelson (D-Northampton), Michael Schlossberg (D-Lehigh), Peter Schweyer (D-Lehigh), and Martina White (R-Phila) have already heard this latest alarming reaching at our local forums.
Let your legislators know that action is needed NOW (see Advocate & Serve below) before the worst happens. National politicians are loudly blaming lack of warning for run on U.S. banks. State lawmakers have sufficient warning to solve the early ed crisis before a full collapse occurs.