The Louisiana Department of Education funded two cycles of the Teacher Support Grant in 2021-2022 for Open Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) child care providers to pay teachers one-time stipends or salary supplements in recognition of their frontline COVID-19 service. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the child care field and specifically on day care teachers. Research study by the University of Virginia found that more than 50% of early childhood educators report being unable to afford medical bills, 40% are food insecure, and 30% report having difficulty paying rent. There is much concern about these and other stressors that contribute to teacher turnover.
The first round of the grant distributed $10,681,600 in August 2021 to over 600 open child care providers; the second round of the grant distributed an additional $17,492,800 to more than 700 child care providers opened in February 2022. The Teacher Support Grants provide critical support to the early years field as it bounces back from l impact of COVID-19 through incentives for teachers to stay on the job.
These grants were awarded in response to an early childhood workforce report which was submitted by the Department to the Louisiana Legislative Assembly. The report presents key insights into the costs and funding mechanisms of early childhood care and education in Louisiana and the impacts on the early education workforce. The report states that approximately 35% of early childhood classroom teachers leave their sites each year. This rate is closer to 44% in daycares. Only one-third of teachers observed in Louisiana’s publicly funded early childhood classrooms are still there three years later. Recent data from Louisiana suggests child care workers earn about $20,000 a year, less than half of what their school counterparts earn. This wage is below the federal poverty level for a family of three in 2020; nearly 27% of daycare educators also report having a second job.
“Teachers working in early care and education are consistently paid less than their service sector counterparts,” says Dr. Cynthia DiCarlo, professor of early childhood education at Louisiana State University and executive director of LSU. Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool. “Until we decide as a state to pay teachers at the same level as other employment opportunities, we will not move forward with quality early childhood care and education in Louisiana.”
“When qualified and experienced educators consistently leave the field, it’s inevitable that we’ll see direct impacts on quality,” said Dr. Libbie Sonnier, executive director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. “Either a program will have a ceiling of success that it cannot exceed, or worse, we will start to see a reduction in quality as programs struggle to recruit and retain strong staff in care and support. early education.”
The Ministry continues to study the issue of teacher retention and compensation and has embarked on a multi-year early childhood workforce stabilization strategy.
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