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High Turnover Among Early Childhood Educators in the United States

Authors:
  • Hokuriku Gakuin University

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to overview existing literature about early childhood teacher turnover in the United States. A key to providing quality programs is retention of child care staff. However, the average annual turnover rate for child care staff is 30% in the United States. Consequently, there have been a large number of studies conducted to wrestle with issues of turnover. Most of the studies have agreed that insufficient compensation was reason for high turnover. However, environmental and personal characteristics, such as lack of support from administrators and coworkers, and motivation, should not be overlooked as reasons of teacher's decision to leave the job. Some suggestions for future research were addressed. http://www.childresearch.net/projects/ecec/2012_04.html
The link is https://www.childresearch.net/projects/ecec/2012_04.html
... Thus, educators who remain in the sector may be different than ones who opt out. For educators who remain in the sector, years of experience may be associated with reductions in performance due to burnout (Porter, 2012). Some theorists and researchers have also speculated that teachers who have been in the field longer may be resistant to professional development opportunities, to using new technologies, or to using new curriculum and teaching strategies due to their beliefs and burnout (McGeary & McGeary, 2012). ...
... However, turnover of both children and educators is a major factor in this sector. For example, Porter (2012) estimates educator turnover in the ECEC sector in the United States to be approximately 30% per year, while Whitebook and Sakai (2003) report that over half of educators left their sample of centers over a five-year period. To examine this, we tracked attrition when information about it was provided in the studies we reviewed. ...
... It is also possible that educators with many years of experience provide poorer quality care compared with educators with moderate levels of experience and as a result, child outcomes suffer (Darling-Hammond, 2000). This may be due to burnout, high rates of turnover in the ECEC sector (Porter, 2012;Whitebook & Sakai, 2003), or other factors such as outdated knowledge related to best practices (Banu, 2014). Until research that examines curvilinear patterns of associations is published it will not be possible to address this important question. ...
Article
Despite extensive study, there is little consensus about the relationship between educators’ years of experience in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings and children's outcomes. Our goal was to systematically review and meta-analyze the literature on educators’ years of experience and children's outcomes defined broadly. Three electronic databases (Medline, ERIC, PsycINFO), reference sections of eligible studies, and websites of large datasets were searched for studies published until February 5th, 2018. Studies that provided a statistical analysis of the association between educators’ years of experience and child outcomes for preschool-aged children in ECEC settings were included. Two independent reviewers screened titles, abstracts, and full publications for relevance and extracted data from all studies retrieved from our search. Thirty-two studies (based on 28,038 different children, and over 4000 educators) were included in the systematic review. Operationalization of educators’ years of experience varied across studies. Over 100 different measures were used to assess child outcomes across studies. Meta-analyses were conducted for receptive vocabulary, letter identification, numerical problem solving, positive behavior, and social skills and problem behavior. All were nonsignificant. Results from the systematic review also showed very few and weak associations between educators’ years of experience and child outcomes. Findings were unrelated to a series of moderators explored. Our findings do not provide empirical support for use of educator years of experience as a quality indicator in the oversight of ECEC programs. More research that takes into consideration the multi-faceted, complex and dynamic nature of ECEC services is very much needed.
... These challenges are dependent upon individual preferences and personalities and perhaps can be dealt with as exceptions to the general rule. The logistical challenge to looping, especially in early childhood education, is the high rate of turnover among teachers, which is more than 30% for all teaching staff in early childhood setting (Porter, 2012). Administrators considering the use of looping must be certain that the teacher will be at the school for at least two years, which is not always a given. ...
... Many young children are in childcare centers well before two years old. Not only is the attachment with the parent disrupted, but the possibility for forming an alternate attachment with a teacher is not likely in childcare centers with a high staff turnover rate and thus, no continuity of caregiver (Porter, 2012). Recent findings in the field of epigenetics call attention to the importance of attachment and demand a change in how childcare is managed for our youngest children. ...
... The problem is how it is practiced and implemented has not caught up to what we know about what children need for optimal development. Childcare, what should be the foundation of our nation's educational system, still lacks the standards and public support it deserves and the education, training, and salaries of the childcare workers remain subpar (Porter, 2012). As a result, many children are being traumatized and re-traumatized by the gap between what we know and what we do (Karr-Morse & Wiley, 2012). ...
Article
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Increasing focus on the quality of child care and pre-K is calling attention to the circumstances of child care and impact on the child’s social and emotional health, specifically in terms of attachment. The early childhood profession recognizes that consistency in caregiving is essential for the child’s attachment. Looping, the practice of keeping a group of children with the same teacher for more than year, has the potential to provide that consistency that is critical for attachment. The field of epigenetics and its compelling findings in regard to attachment demand a second look at looping and how it can be implemented to maintain attachment, which is critical to the child’s physical, cognitive, and emotional health now and in the future. This case study conducted at a preschool that practices looping examines the benefits and challenges of looping through the lens of applied epigenetics.
... High ECEC worker turnover is constant (Caven et al., 2021;Porter, 2012) but was worsened by COVID-19 (Weiland et al., 2021). Persistent turnover rates from 5 to 30%, which are even higher in programs serving infants and toddlers (Caven et al., 2021), are associated with lower wages (Caven, 2021), job stress, negative work experiences, and the profession's low status (Hale-Jinks et al., 2006;Whitebook, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study explores Ohio Early Childhood and Care (ECEC) workers’ perspectives about different prioritization for COVID-19 vaccine distribution between Ohio educators employed in ECEC and prek-12 settings. Days after Ohio's shutdown, ECEC programs began reopening for children of essential workers, and by June 2020 all ECEC programs could reopen with enhanced mitigation strategies, while the prek-12 workforce remained remote as they cautiously returned in-person ranging from 2 to 9 months later. Ohio was 1 of 4 states that, despite contrary Center for Disease Control guidance, excluded ECEC workers from the phase of vaccine distribution in which prek-12 workers were eligible. Data on ECEC employee perceptions of this difference were collected via anonymous online questionnaire from 194 ECEC workers. Qualitative analysis revealed six themes: 1. Participants compared themselves to prek-12, 2. believe they are valuable, 3. disagreed with the decision, 4. felt undervalued compared to prek-12, 5. felt exploited, and 6. suffered mental health effects. ECEC workers’ perspectives are valuable and should be included in decisions impacting them.
... Several factors have been identified as persistent challenges to supporting and maintaining a productive and effective OST workforce. Lack of full-time work opportunities and low compensation have been at the forefront of reasons workers have reported for moving on from the field (Porter, 2012;Whitebook, Phillips, & Howes, 2014;Yohalem & Pittman, 2006;Yohalem et al., 2010). Employment in the OST field is often seen as a stepping-stone to other careers with better pay, making it difficult to advocate for investment in workers who may take their skills elsewhere. ...
Article
Full-text available
It has long been understood that high-quality staffing is a major contributor to achieving positive outcomes for children and youth in out-of-school time (OST) programs. Yet, information on the current OST program workforce is outdated and understudied. The purpose of this study was to explore, via a convenience sample of OST program workers, the perceived features of the OST field and the relative importance of these features to workers in the field. The researchers were particularly interested in OST worker perception of features that may typically be associated with longevity in a profession. Improving understanding of the perceptions of the OST workforce may help employers to foster the work environments, staffing structures, compensation approaches, and professional development experiences that influence high-quality workers to stay in the field. The study findings illuminate the significance that workers in the OST field attach to passion for a field of work, and the central importance to them of building relationships with and fostering positive and healthy development for children.
... The OECD (2019) acknowledge that low pay can lead to high turnover, creating an unstable learning environment that is necessary for young children's development. Vandenbroeck et al., (2018) also recognise that insufficient working conditions (including salaries) leads to higher staff turnover, which, they claim, is detrimental to quality, whereas the EU (2014, p. 360) refers to the 'constant and detrimental' staff turnover in the ECEC sector, which ranges from 18% to 40% across countries (Porter, 2012). ...
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A major goal of Early Childhood Education and Care is directed towards relieving child poverty and, redressing educational disadvantage. Yet, notwithstanding the widely acknowledged association between quality and positive outcomes for children, investment in the ECEC sector is firmly placed on the bottom rung of the educational continuum. Many educators do not earn a living wage and, are themselves, living on the margins of poverty. In turn, educators are resisting ECEC as a career choice leading to widespread recruitment and retention concerns internationally. This paper argues that turnover rates within the sector disrupt children's learning at the most critical time in their development. It further argues that ECEC is situated on the margins of education (especially in relation to birth to three year olds), of professional remuneration, and of professional status. Early childhood education and care can therefore be a source of gross inequality for those who care for and, educate young children. It calls upon Governments to move beyond rhetoric and, to transform early childhood jobs and finance the wider ECEC system. This is the only way to achieve the expected outcomes from ECEC and give due recognition to educators and, establish a profession that is on par with primary and post-primary education. This is the only way to bring early childhood educators in from the margins of education, professional remuneration and professional standing.
... This is consistent with national reports, which indicate approximately 65% of child care teachers remain in the field year to year (Smith & Baughman, 2007). Multiple studies have linked low teacher turnover with higher quality of the child care environment and access to benefits (Porter, 2012;Smith & Baughman, 2007). Additional analysis by region and education level is included in the Appendix. ...
... Staff turnover at both the administrative and direct care level was particularly problematic for center-based sites, who reported staff turnover rates of 9-73%. Nationally, rates of 30-50% have been reported (Porter and W. S. University, 2012;Whitebook et al., 2016) for reasons including low wages, lack of benefits, and lack of administrative support, and these factors may be more of an issue in under-resourced areas. Turnover was more of an issue for center-based care, as home-based care tended to be single providers; however, it is unknown if this factor may be related to the greater improvements in physical activity seen in home-based care. ...
Article
Full-text available
Physical activity is a critical component of obesity prevention, but few interventions targeting early childhood have been described. The Active Early guide was designed to increase physical activity in early care and education (ECE) settings. The purpose of Active Early 2.0 was to evaluate the effectiveness of Active Early along with provider training, microgrant support, and technical assistance over 2years (2012–2014) to increase physical activity and related behaviors (e.g., nutrition) in settings serving a high proportion of children from underserved groups in recognition of significant disparities in obesity and challenges meeting physical activity recommendations in low-resource settings. The physical activity and nutrition environment were assessed before and after the intervention in 15 ECE settings in Wisconsin using the Environment and Policy Observation Assessment tool, and interviews were conducted with providers and technical consultants. There was no significant change in Total Physical Activity Score or any EPAO subscale over the intervention period; however, significant improvements in the Total Nutrition Score and the several Nutrition subscales were observed. Additionally, the percentage of sites with written activity policies significantly increased. Overall minutes of teacher-led physical activity increased to 61.5±29.0min (p<0.05). Interviews identified key benefits to children (i.e., more energy, better rest, improved behavior) and significant barriers, most notably care provider and child turnover and low parent engagement. Moderate policy and environmental improvements in physical activity and nutrition were achieved with this intervention, but more work is needed to understand and address barriers and to support sustained changes in lower-resource ECE settings.
... In both developed and developing countries, staff working at child care centers generally have lower qualifications, receive less pay, and have higher levels of turnover than is the case with teachers of somewhat older children. In the United States, for example, the annual turnover of child care workers is between 25 and 40 percent (Porter 2012 and the references therein). In Latin America, early childhood educators have lower remunerations than, and different evaluations and career paths from, primary school teachers (Kagan et al. 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Development in early childhood predicts schooling and labor market outcomes in adulthood. In this paper we use a fixed effects identification strategy to assess how differences in the quality of child care affect the communication, fine motor, and problem solving skills of infants and toddlers. We show that children have significantly better development outcomes in classrooms with more experienced caregivers, and classrooms with caregivers who demonstrate higher-quality interactions with children. There is substantial heterogeneity in the effects of caregiver quality on child development. Parents either cannot observe, or do not value, the quality of care.
Article
Early childhood teachers are a unique population of teachers and it is important to determine amendable factors that contribute to their stress. According to available research, challenging child behavior is associated with teacher stress and burnout in school-aged teachers. Given the lack of formal and coordinated in-service education and varied qualifications, early childhood teachers are particularly vulnerable to stress. Further, young children are more likely to have challenging behavior given their social-emotional developmental levels. The purpose of this study was to explore teacher characteristics and perceptions related to their stress, commitment, support, and challenging child behavior in their classrooms. Participants included 100 early childhood professionals. A teacher survey was utilized to determine their perceptions related to key variables. Regression analyses documented teacher commitment and challenging behavior in the classroom uniquely predicted variance in teacher ratings of stress and burnout. Commitment to their job was also a significant predictor to their perceptions of challenging behavior. However, only teacher stress/burnout predicted ratings of challenging behavior; thus, relationships among variables may be more complex. Teachers’ years of experience and education level were not related to other variables. For exploratory purposes, teacher professional development perceptions were also surveyed and results indicated that the vast majority of early childhood educators felt professional development was a good use of their time and that they wished more opportunities were available; however, most also indicated they felt training covered information they already knew.
Article
The purpose of this study is to analyze the influence of the working-environment and job-satisfaction on the turnover intention of infant-care teachers. For this study, a survey was conducted on 200 infant-care teachers, who work in facilities of Northern Gyeonggi-do. The main results of this study are as follows: First, the turnover intention of infant-care teachers has no statistically significant differences by socio-demographic factors. Second, turnover intentions relate negatively to working-environment and job-satisfaction. More job-autonomy reduces the turnover intention and more job-conflict and job-burden increases the turnover intention. Third, the working-environment and job-satisfaction have influences on the turnover intention of infant-care teachers in the regression model. In conclusion, we need to improve the working-environment and to enhance job-satisfaction in order to reduce the turnover rate of infant-care teachers.
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