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Report seeks solutions for paying early childcare educators "living wage"

Childcare facility
Childcare facility

A new study suggests a unifying wage scale for early childhood educators could be an answer to the childcare crisis facing working parents and employers.

For more than two decades, Michigan’s childcare workforce has been on the decline. Since 2001, Michigan has lost 29,000 early childcare educators. A drop of 27%. Each educator serves four to 12 children. That 27% decline means the state has 116,000 to 348,000 childcare slots.

“So, it’s quite a number of slots that we’ve lost which equates to essentially more parents being forced to stay home in order to care for their children.”

Alex Andrews is with Grand Rapids-based TalentFirst. An alliance of West Michigan CEOs seeking to benefit all who live and work in the region.

He tells us the state has lost an estimated $2.88 billion in annual economic activity.

The new report, “Balancing the Scales: A Proposal for a Systemwide Wage Scale to Address Michigan’s Early Childhood Education Crisis,” commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also finds just 28% of ECE workers earn enough to support a single adult. Only 1% earns enough to support the average family.

The study proposes a systemwide, unifying wage scale.

“Regardless of what setting you’re operating in, whether it’s a private provider, a home-based provider, school-based setting, center-based setting, you’re making the same wage regardless of which system within the system you’re operating within. You’re also making the same wage regardless of your title.”

Degrees earned, years of experience and location will be factors.

Where the money will come from elevating wages will be the focus of the study’s second phase.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.
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