Early Childhood Workforce is Focus of Statewide VECF Survey in 2017  

Richmond, Va. (Dec. 19, 2017) – The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) has released results of the Virginia Early Childhood Workforce Survey 2017. The report offers baseline data compiled for the first time in over a decade on the Commonwealth’s brain-builders, namely the early childhood professionals who are engaged in the business of educating and caring for young children before they enter kindergarten.

The Early Childhood Workforce Survey emerged from the work of the Virginia School Readiness Committee created in 2016 by the Virginia General Assembly. More than 800 early education program administrators and almost 500 lead teachers in early childhood care and education settings provided responses to survey items regarding educational qualifications, wages, benefits, professional development and turnover/retention rates.

Some key findings include:

  • Only half of teachers in private centers hold a bachelor’s degree and one-third have a high school diploma or GED as their highest level of attainment.
  • Among Family Day Home providers, more than half have a high school diploma or GED as their highest level of achievement.
  • The average hourly starting wage for teachers in private centers is $12.83 and, for Family Day Home providers, it is $11.67, significantly below school-based programs average of $20.95.
  • Among all teachers who do not have a second source of household income, fully 55 percent report an annual salary of $25,000 or less, putting much of the early childhood workforce near or below the federal poverty line.
  • More than a third of private centers report turning over 20 percent or more of their staff each year and often have difficulty filling those roles, particularly in areas that serve high numbers of at-risk children. Wages are the top reason cited by teachers who plan to leave the profession.
  • Cost and time are the most commonly cited barriers for teachers to access additional professional development.

“In Virginia, nearly 350,000 children under five years of age spend significant time in settings led by early childhood professionals,” said Kathy Glazer, President of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. “No factor within these early care and education settings has a greater impact on healthy child development than the competencies of the professionals who are interacting with children on a daily basis. Early educators are truly Virginia’s brain builders. ”

“This important workforce survey will inform policies and practices to ensure that Virginia’s early childhood professionals can thrive in their chosen careers,” said Bill Ermatinger, VECF Board Chair and EVP/Chief Human Resources Officer for Huntington Ingalls Industries in Newport News, Va. “Just like everyone in the workforce, early education teachers need working conditions that will result in fulfilling, long-term employment, as well as a smooth path to acquiring additional credentials and training in the field. We believe this will have a significant, positive impact on the developing brains of the next generation.”

The Virginia Early Childhood Workforce Survey 2017 can be viewed in its entirety at archive.vecf.org/reports-and-tools.

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About the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation: VECF creates results-oriented partnerships to ensure that young children are healthy and prepared for school, life and workforce success. To learn more about VECF, visit archive.vecf.org.