Updated: Apr 26, 2022
The Louisiana Department of Education funded two rounds of the Teacher Support Grant in 2021-2022 for open Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) child care providers to give teachers one-time stipends or wage supplements in recognition of their COVID-19 front-line service. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the child care field and specifically child care teachers. Research conducted by the University of Virginia found that more than 50 percent of early educators in child care report being unable to pay for medical expenses, 40 percent are food insecure, and 30 percent report difficulty paying rent. There is considerable concern about these and other stressors that contribute to teacher turnover.
The initial round of the grant distributed $10,681,600 in August of 2021 for over 600 open child care providers; the second round of the grant distributed an additional $17,492,800 to over 700 open child care providers in February of 2022. The Teacher Support Grants are providing critical support to the early childhood field as it rebounds from the impact of COVID-19 through incentives for teachers to remain in the field. These grants have been issued in response to an early childhood workforce report that was submitted by the Department to the Louisiana Legislature. The report presents key information about the costs and funding mechanisms for early childhood care and education in Louisiana and the impacts on the early education workforce. The report states that about 35 percent of teachers in early childhood classrooms leave their sites each year. That rate is closer to 44 percent in child care centers. Just one-third of teachers observed in Louisiana’s publicly-funded early childhood classrooms are still there three years later.
Recent Louisiana data suggest that child care teachers make about $20,000 annually, less than half of what their school-based counterparts earn. This salary is less than the federal poverty level for a family of three in 2020; nearly 27 percent of child care teachers also report working a second job.
“Teachers working in early care and education are still paid less than their service-industry counterparts,” says Dr. Cynthia DiCarlo, professor of early childhood education at Louisiana State University and executive director of the LSU Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool. “Until we decide as a state to pay teachers at par with other job opportunities, we will not move forward with quality early childhood care and education in Louisiana.”
"When qualified, experienced educators are constantly leaving the field, it's inevitable that we will see direct impacts on quality," said Dr. Libbie Sonnier, executive director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. "Either a program will have a ceiling of success that it will not be able to exceed, or worse, we will start seeing a reduction in quality as programs struggle to recruit and retain strong early care and education staff." The Department continues to study the issue of teacher retention and compensation and is committed to a multi-year strategy of stabilizing the early childhood workforce. Please visit louisianabelieves.com for more information.
Press release from the Louisiana Department of Education.