From birth to three years of age is an especially critical window for brain development. Are we supporting our infant and toddler educators — who are responsible for guiding that brain development for 8 or 10 hours a day — to be the best they can be?
NCECF has reported about the disparities in standards and compensation between infant and toddler early educators and all other teachers. The average infant/toddler teacher in North Carolina makes $10 an hour — less than retail wages at some big box stores. Because of these low wages, nearly 40 percent of early care and education teachers (of children birth through age five) receive some sort of government benefit, like Medicaid, food assistance or a child care subsidy. They also often deal with the stress, depression, anxiety and physical health issues that can come along with living with low income.
Check out one early educator’s story in this great article by our partner EducationNC. Early educators are inspired, inspiring people — they are in the classroom because it is what they love. How can NC better support them to ensure their success?
- The Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Action Framework highlights raising standards and compensation for early childhood educators as a critical action for improving the quality of early education in North Carolina, particularly for babies and toddlers.
- Think Babies NC, a coalition of organizations working to improve outcomes for NC’s youngest children, also highlights the importance of raising standards and compensation for early educators as a path to improving infant and toddler child care quality.
- The WAGE$ program provides salary supplements for early childhood educators, and the T.E.A.C.H. program provides scholarships for further education.
- Babies First NC, a program to improve the quality of infant and toddler child care in North Carolina, was successfully piloted in four low-income counties in 2013-2016 and has been slated for expansion under the state’s proposal for a federal Preschool Development Implementation Grant, which would start in 2020.