Early Childhood

Report Claims Child-Care Workers Have Been Largely ‘Undercounted’

By Linda Jacobson — May 08, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

President Bush says he wants to improve the skills of preschool teachers and child-care providers, but he may be underestimating how many need to be trained, suggests a new report.

“Estimating the Size and Components of the U.S. Child Care Workforce and Caregiving Population,” is available from the Human Services Policy Center. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)

There are 2.3 million people, including more than 800,000 paid relatives, caring for children other than their own from birth to 5 years old, the study found. That number is higher than estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau and the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, which range from 700,000 to 1.7 million caregivers for children through age 12.

“U.S. workers who care for children ages 0-5 have been seriously undercounted in previous analyses, and as a result, the economic and social contribution of child-care workers and the projected future need for child-care workers (as well as the resources to train and pay them) have been seriously underestimated,” says the report, which was released last week.

In addition to the 2.3 million paid caregivers, the report notes that there are another 2.4 million people caring for young children during the week who are not paid. Most—93 percent—are relatives, while the rest are primarily parent volunteers in center-based programs.

The bulk of paid teachers and providers—49 percent—are caring for 1- to 3-year-olds in a variety of arrangements in centers and homes, according to the study, which the authors say gives a far more accurate estimate of the child-care workforce than previous estimates. Twenty-two percent work in programs targeted at 3- to 5- year-olds, and a fraction of those workers are teachers in the federal Head Start program for children from low-income families. The remaining 29 percent work with infants and babies.

“We know we need better-trained workers, and we know there is turnover, but nobody had a number to work with,” said Richard N. Brandon, the director of the Human Services Policy Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. He co-wrote the study with researchers at the Center for the Child Care Workforce, an advocacy and research organization based in Washington, D.C.

‘Different Set of Skills’

The report also estimates that roughly two-thirds of those caring for preschool-age children lack any college-level training, and that efforts to improve the educational level of providers should also target the thousands who are caring for toddlers, particularly in family child-care centers and other home-based settings.

The toddler years “are a very challenging time,” Mr. Brandon said. “There is a different set of skills that you need.”

The report, “Estimating the Size and Components of the U.S. Child Care Workforce and Caregiving Population,” focuses on the first year of a two-year, $249,000 project. The researchers received a grant from the Child Care Bureau—a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—to do their work.

To develop their estimates, the researchers reviewed data from the U.S. Department of Education’s 1999 National Household Education Survey, in which almost 7,000 parents described their child-care arrangements. That approach allowed the researchers to count the unpaid and home-based workers who have been missed in past estimates.

A version of this article appeared in the May 08, 2002 edition of Education Week as Report Claims Child-Care Workers Have Been Largely ‘Undercounted’

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Early Childhood Support for Universal Pre-K Grows as More States Jump on Board
New Mexico became the latest state to approve investments in pre-K programs.
5 min read
A Pre-K student plays with the class guinea pig at Positive Tomorrows in Oklahoma City, Okla., on Aug. 17, 2021. Oklahoma is one of a handful of states offering universal pre-k to all students.
A prekindergarten student plays with the class guinea pig at Positive Tomorrows in Oklahoma City, Okla., in 2021. Oklahoma is one of a handful of states offering universal pre-K.
Sue Ogrocki/AP
Early Childhood As Head Start Quality Push Continues, Advocates Raise Red Flag on Equity
Inadequate federal funding forces Head Start providers to choose between quality and quantity, a new report contends.
2 min read
A multi-ethnic group of preschool students is sitting with their legs crossed on the floor in their classroom. The mixed-race female teacher is sitting on the floor facing the children. The happy kids are smiling and following the teacher's instructions. They have their arms raised in the air.
E+/Getty
Early Childhood Spotlight Spotlight on Early Learning
This Spotlight will help you examine the impact of early education programs on high school performance, evaluate pre-K programs, and more.
Early Childhood Get a Very Early Start on Teaching Coding Skills. Pilot Study Suggests Trying Robotic Toys
The study found that coding exercises enhanced the preschoolers’ problem-solving skills, creativity, and determination.
2 min read
Julian Gresham, 12, left, works in a group to program a Bee-Bot while in their fifth grade summer school class Monday, June 14, 2021, at Goliad Elementary School. Bee-bots and are new to Ector County Independent School District and help to teach students basic programming skills like sequencing, estimation and problem-solving.
Students work in a group to program a Bee-Bot while in their summer school class at Goliad Elementary School in Odessa, Texas.
Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP