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’


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

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 Opinion Waterford Upstart on Providing Remote Learning to 90,000 Pre-K Kids
Rick Hess speaks with Dr. LaTasha Hadley of Waterford Upstart about its use of adaptive software to close gaps in kindergarten readiness.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Early Childhood Opinion How Two Child-Care Centers Put Competition Aside and Created a Partnership During COVID-19
Due to COVID-19, two early-childhood centers put their competition aside to work together to support families during the pandemic.
Charles Dinofrio
7 min read
Early Childhood New Players Fill Child-Care Gap as Schools Go Remote
As school districts move to remote instruction for the fall, day-care providers, dance studios, and after-school programs step in to fill school-day child-care gaps.
7 min read
A student works on schoolwork earlier this month at the Wharton Dobson Club in Wharton, Texas, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For a small fee, the organization is offering a full-day program that provides students a safe place to complete their remote learning classwork and socialize with friends.
A student works on schoolwork earlier this month at the Wharton Dobson Club in Wharton, Texas, part of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston. For a small fee, the organization is offering a full-day program that provides students a safe place to complete their remote learning classwork and socialize with friends.
Courtesy of Boys and Girls Club of Greater Houston
Early Childhood Will Kindergartens Be Empty This Fall?
As cases of COVID-19 continue to grow, parents around the country are struggling with whether to send their child to kindergarten this fall. Some say they won't.
6 min read
Satiria Clayton was looking forward to her 5-year-old son Cassius starting kindergarten this year in Tempe, Ariz., but the recent spike in coronavirus cases has left her, like many other parents, worried about what to expect. "In an ideal would I would love to stay at home and teach him,” she said. “The reality is I have to send him to school."
Satiria Clayton was looking forward to her 5-year-old son Cassius starting kindergarten this year in Tempe, Ariz., but the recent spike in coronavirus cases has left her, like many other parents, worried about what to expect. "In an ideal would I would love to stay at home and teach him,” she said. “The reality is I have to send him to school."
Courtesy of Satiria Clayton