Michigan childcare worker shortage critical, report says

LANSING – Three Michigan organizations are sounding alarm bells about a shortage in child care workers. the Michigan League for Public Policy says early childhood workforce issues have reached crisis levels. 

A new report shows that poor compensation, little room for advancement and lack of public resources are causing shortages in the childcare sector. 

Alicia Guevara Warren is the Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Early Childhood Investment Corporations. She said large contributor to the crisis is stagnant wages for childcare workers.

“We can’t have services for families if we don’t have the workforce to actually provide those childcare services,” Guevara-Warren said. “Our workforce, in particular , is facing a number of challenges. Our providers are either not able to recruit the number of staff that they need to be able to provide care for children. There’s also a lot of issues around compensation that are really needs to be addressed.”

According to the report, child care workers are some of the lowest paid professions in the state, earning just over $11 per hour. One in five child care workers lives below the poverty line. The low wages lead to major staffing turnover.

The report points out that the younger the children you care for, the lower your level of compensation.

Guevara-Warren said there are several steps that need to be taken to make early childcare more appealing for potential workers.

“Compensation is a huge thing. We need to think about what types of investments need to be made both through the state and federal government. What are some innovative strategies in ways that we can create pipelines for young people that are interested in working in this field to actually be able to enter the field? There are things that we can do around ensuring that once they’re a childcare educator or provider, that they actually have opportunities for professional advancement and growth,” Guevara-Warren said. “All of those things that we know are important for, you know, for most people in the workforce, those things are also important for childcare workers as well.”

Links to the three organizations behind the report and their background information is listed below.

The Michigan League for Public Policywww.mlpp.org, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on opportunity for all. Its mission is to advance economic security, racial equity, health and well-being for all people in Michigan through policy change. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

The Kids Count in Michigan projecthttps://mlpp.org/kids-count/, is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, The Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Ruth Mott Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, DTE Energy Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund and the Battle Creek Community Foundation. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center, www.datacenter.kidscount.org.

Think Babies Michiganhttps://www.ecic4kids.org/policy-thinkbabiesmi/, is a prenatal-to-three policy collaborative of nearly 1,900 parents, advocates and organizations across the state working to make Michigan a top state to have a baby and raise a child. The statewide initiative is generously supported by the Pritzker Children’s Initiative.