National report claims childcare workers aren’t paid enough to make ends meet

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new report out Thursday morning claims childcare workers aren’t paid enough to make ends meet, which may fuel how prices are rising for childcare across the country.

This report follows one we told you about last month, describing the high cost of childcare throughout the country.

Thursday, the Economic Policy Institute released the second of 3 papers highlighting what they say is a need for reform in our childcare system nationwide. The latest report focuses on the demographics, wages, and work conditions of these workers.

The report finds the following:

  • The median hourly wage for childcare workers is $10.31, which is nearly 40% below the $17 median hourly wage of workers in other fields.
  • One in 7 childcare workers lives below the official poverty line. Over one third lives below twice the poverty line.
  • The typical earnings of childcare workers do not cover the basic family budget for a one-person family.
  • More than 90% of childcare workers cannot meet their family budget.

It’s a problem impacting people right here in the East too. 9 On Your Side told you about the rising cost of childcare in eastern North Carolina at the beginning of the school year. This year, parents in our state are spending on average $3,800 on after-school programs, which is $60 more than last year.

For ECU senior Camille Godley, it’s not all about the money.

“It’s something I just love to do,” said Camille Godley. “I love working with children. I love making them happy and giving them a haven spot for them.”

And that’s exactly what she plans to do when she graduates. Godley wants to open up her own childcare center.

“Just be there for kids and to establish an environment for them where they will  be able to learn and have hands on learning as possible and they can flex their learning abilities the best way as possible,” explained Godley.

And Child Care Outreach Director in Pitt and Martin counties Christie Martin says child care workers are fundamental to a child’s early growth before 5 years old.

“It’s a very critical time for brain development,” explained Christie Martin, Community Outreach Director. “90 percent of brain development happens in that time in the first 2,000 days from birth to when the child goes to kindergarten.”

Martin credits her own daughter’s caretakers with teaching her to read while she has to work.

Godley believes all childcare workers should have an increase in salary because of the crucial role they play for a child’s development.

But that would mean higher costs for parents, who may have to decide between paying up or losing out on a way to educate their children.

You can find the full report on the Economic Policy Institute’s website.

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