At the Breaking Point

How to Better Compensate and Support Teachers of Our Youngest Learners

In September, TIME magazine released an article with the provocative title, 'I Work 3 Jobs And Donate Blood Plasma to Pay the Bills.' This Is What It’s Like to Be a Teacher in America By Katie Reilly. While working multiple jobs is not typical for most K-12 teachers, dissatisfaction with low pay, long hours, and waning benefits is widespread. These issues have been elevated throughout the year with teacher strikes across the country.

Unfortunately, these challenges are often more pronounced for those educating and caring for our youngest children. Early childhood educators tend to struggle with lower wages, longer hours, and fewer workplace supports. The average hourly wage for child care workers in the United States is only $10.72. And more than half of child care workers, compared to 21 percent of the general workforce, rely on some form of public assistance to get by.

Teaching and caring for young children is skilled and challenging work. Yet current conditions cause many early childhood educators to come to work each morning exhausted, worried about how to pay their bills, and even clinically depressed. Workforce well-being matters in any field, but it is especially pertinent in early care and education, where the quality of relationships and interactions between the adults and the children they care for are essential to quality.

States working to improve early care and education must understand what it takes to attract and retain a high-quality workforce. What can be done to minimize stress and improve educator well-being? Early educators need livable compensation to make this a viable career path. But beyond compensation, what are there workplace supports and conditions that can make a difference? How can we ensure that teachers are healthy for themselves and the children they serve?

Join New America’s Early & Elementary Education Policy team for an event exploring workforce well-being, a pressing issue that needs both better understanding and action. This panel discussion will highlight the existing research on teacher well-being and discuss policy solutions.

A light breakfast will be served.

Finalized agenda to come.

Follow the discussion on Twitter by using #teacherwellbeing and following @NewAmericaEd.


Laura Bornfreund
Director of Early & Elementary Education Policy, New America

Research Panel


George Philipp
Center for the Study of Child Care Employment

Kathleen Gallagher
Director of Research and Evaluation, Buffett Early Childhood Institute

Rebecca Madill
Research Scientist, Child Trends


Abbie Lieberman
Senior Policy Analyst, New America

Policy & Practice Panel


Ruth Schmidt
Executive Director, Wisconsin Early Childhood Association

Erin Carroll
Director of Classroom and Workforce Improvement, Louisiana Department of Education Office of Early Childhood

Jacqueline Hines
Board Member, DC AEYC

Jamal Berry
School Director, Educare Washington, D.C.


Aaliyah Samuel
Education Division Director, National Governors Association