Did you know that child care workers in Maryland earn less than mechanics, administrative assistants, and hairdressers? Child care workers in Maryland earn an average hourly wage of $11.07, according to the latest data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. This pay rate translates into an average annual wage of $23,020, a meager income which is only slightly above the poverty threshold for a family of three. Preschool teachers in Maryland fare slightly better, with an average hourly wage of $15.44.
Today is Worthy Wage Day, an annual day of action to call attention to the important work of early childhood educators and raise awareness of the need to improve the wages of the early childhood workforce.
Numerous studies show the impressive benefits to children and to society from high-quality early learning. If we value the quality of the early care and education that young children receive, we must value the teachers and caregivers that provide it.
The early childhood field is plagued by high job turnover rates of about 30 percent of the workforce annually. Paying better wages helps early learning programs attract and retain talented teachers, who are critical to providing quality early learning experiences for young children. Of course, part of the challenge in paying early childhood teachers higher wages is that families can ill-afford to pay more for early learning. That’s why greater public investments in early childhood education, like the proposed federal Strong Start for America’s Children Act, are so important. These investments would enable programs to improve the quality of their services, help enable teachers to earn wages more worthy of their talents, and keep early learning services affordable for families.
Related: Maryland child care workers’ wage infographic on Facebook.
The American Federation of Teachers has a toolkit of resources for Worthy Wage Day.