Child care workforce at ‘crisis’ level of staffing shortages ⋆ Michigan Advance

Michigan’s early childhood workforce has reached “crisis levels” of staff shortages due to a lack of state support and low pay, according to a report released this month. ci by the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP), Kids Count in Michigan, and Think Babies Michigan.

The state’s child care workers are among the lowest earners in Michigan, with a median hourly wage of $11.13, putting nearly 20% of them below the poverty line.

According to report“In the face of Michigan’s early childhood workforce crisis,” low wages have led to staff turnover rates of up to 25-30 percent, affecting the quality of infant and child care. toddlers.

“The biggest concern is that when we don’t have enough educators to staff daycares and daycares to keep them open, parents can’t go to work. And that has huge ripple effects on our economies, both locally and at the state level,” said Alicia Guevara-Warren, director of statewide policy initiatives at Early Childhood Investment Corp., a Lansing-based nonprofit aimed at increasing public and private investment in early childhood.

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In a survey conducted between June 17 and July 5, 87% of child care centers said they were experiencing staffing shortages that caused them to serve fewer children, have a longer waiting list, not open classrooms or reduce their opening hours.

Eight out of 10 centers identified salaries as the top recruiting challenge.

The pandemic has exacerbated early childhood workforce issues such as burnout and low pay, leading to difficulties in retaining and recruiting quality staff, similar to the situation in K-12 Education.

“It’s really hard to do this job and provide the level of care required, especially when you’re undervalued and underpaid. It can lead to burnout and cause people to leave the industry because they can go somewhere else with less stress, earn more money and get better benefits,” said Guevara-Warren.

In Michigan’s current fiscal year 2022 budget, there have been historic investments in early childhood education and care, but those investments only last through the end of fiscal year 2023, which begins on October 1st. Early childhood advocates want to see these changes permanent.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer budget proposalannounced Wednesday, includes some recommendations to increase funding for early childhood programs, such as a 50% increase for the Early On program, which supports early identification and intervention services for young children and includes 9.1 million to expand home visiting and collaborative early years efforts.

These other types of early childhood programs experience similar challenges to those faced by child care staff.

For home visiting programs, one-third of these programs have waiting lists for services. Other staffing issues include limited funding to hire enough staff, challenges recruiting staff from different linguistic, racial and cultural backgrounds that match the community served, and the struggle with staff turnover.

The report offers some recommendations to the state, including:

  • Collect more comprehensive data on the early childhood workforce across all sectors, including workers in public and private facilities.
  • Develop a strategy to improve the remuneration of early childhood staff, including the gradual introduction of salary increases based on a salary scale reflecting the true cost of care – based on regularly updated cost of care analyzes .
  • Provide professional development, education, training and certification opportunities to support existing child care workers, addressing recruitment and retention issues within the workforce.

Michael A. Bynum