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12/03/2004

Low Wages for Child Care Workers Result in High Turnover

A Working America Institute study notes that at $7.90 an hour, median child care wages are far lower than the $13.53 an hour median for all jobs—and more than one-third of child care workers leave their jobs each year. Addressing the crisis in child care, quality “must begin with investments in the wages and skills of child care workers,” says Investing in Our Future: Working Together to Improve the Skills and Wages of Child Care Workers. Developing child care workers’ skills, along with career ladders and better wages, can help employers retain staff and cut down on recruitment costs, the report says.

For example, UAW negotiated for child care centers near factories that employ its members. The union received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop an apprenticeship program for child care workers, which includes classes in such topics as child development and ways to build family involvement.

Other model initiatives include the 1199 SEIU/Employer Child Care Fund, which subsidizes child care at the fund’s child care centers and ensures workers there earn fair wages, and successful efforts by the United Child Care Union/AFSCME to negotiate better pay and guaranteed work hours for the child care workers at the Allegheny (Pa.) Child Care Academy.

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