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Child care sector — essential to Boston’s economy — is struggling to recruit new workers

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WBUR, February 2024

Boston is feeling the effects of a dwindling early education workforce, compounding problems caused by the lack of spaces providing child care in the region, according to a new city report. The report, a joint effort by the city’s Office of Early Childhood and several nonprofits, paints a picture of an early education ecosystem that is perilously dependent on underpaid, overworked and aging educators.

Based on 653 survey responses from early childhood educators and directors in 2022, the report finds that young people aren’t filling vacancies in the workforce quickly enough and that wages remain far below a living wage for the region — and don’t necessarily increase with experience. Nearly half of the survey’s respondents worked in Boston, while the rest hailed from other parts of the state.

For an economy that relies on child care outside of the home, that poses a serious structural problem. The Covid-19 pandemic taught policymakers that when child care providers shut down, it tends to keep at least one parent home, too.

The report’s findings were presented on Tuesday at The Boston Foundation. Amy Kershaw, commissioner of the state’s Department of Early Education and Care, said Gov. Maura Healey and others “get that [child care workers] are the workforce behind the workforce… that our economic competitiveness depends on a strong early education and care” system.

Read more at WBUR.

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