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Head Start's Workforce State of Emergency

A recent post by Child Trend’s Rachel Gooze explores new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examining the health and well-being of early childhood educators. “Early childhood educators working in Pennsylvania Head Start programs reported chronic illnesses, such as obesity and headache, in significantly higher proportions than nationally representative cohorts of women of similar age and socioeconomic status,” Gooze reports. 

Current public policy has focused on the expansion of high-quality early childhood education with highly educated teachers.  To ensure children are getting the highest quality education possible we need to “pay attention to, invest in, and be compassionate about the well-being of the adults who provide early care and education,” says Gooze.  Not only did her team’s recent research find in an anonymous survey of Head Start teachers that they are more likely to be depressed, but early childhood educators on average make only $22,000 per year, compared to a $50,000 median annual salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers. 

While the causes for disproportionate chronic illness in early childhood educators are complex, we can help shine a light on this state of affairs by shifting the political focus to the vital role early educators play in the success of our nation’s future. To help move the conversation towards the need for increased support for Head Start and the early childhood education workforce, NHSA is collecting stories. 

If you are struggling to make ends meet because you don’t make a livable wage, tell us your story.

With your stories in hand, we can make sure that your Members of Congress truly understand the workforce state of emergency facing Head Start and Early Head Start.