The Child Care Workforce

Once child care programs have the resources they need to thrive, children, families, businesses, and our nation’s economy also will thrive. On the other hand, as long as child care programs continue to struggle, children, families, businesses and the economy will continue to struggle.

woman interacting with children

The child care industry has long struggled with finding, hiring, and retaining teachers and staff, largely due to low wages and benefits. And yet, strong child outcomes are attributed to early childhood teacher’s credentials and nurturing relationships dependent upon consistency in caregivers. In Pennsylvania, degreed teachers are an integral component of the state’s Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) system, Keystone STARS.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated challenges to the early childhood workforce resulting in an unprecedented childcare crisis. In September of 2021, a statewide survey conducted by partners of the Start Strong PA Campaign found that 92% of early childhood providers were experiencing staffing shortages and, as a result, 51% of respondents closed at least one classroom.

While federal and state relief funds during the pandemic have helped to stabilize child care programs in the short term, this relief has not resolved the systemic challenges that have “plagued the child care market — for parents and providers — and severe challenges remain,” according to a 2022 report from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.