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NJ Child Care Workers Barely Above Poverty Level [AUDIO]

Would you stay in a job that pays barely over the poverty level if you had other options?

Child Care
Flickr User Fairfax County

The average child care worker in the Garden State makes under $23,000 a year. It’s very tough to make ends meets in New Jersey because of the high cost of living and that’s one reason that child care centers experience such a high turnover rate.

“The average annual salary for child care workers in the State of New Jersey is $22,880 a year,” explained Advocates for Children of New Jersey executive director Cecilia Zalkind. “These are the people who are caring for our youngest children at a time when brain development is most important.”

The low salary isn’t enough to develop, train and most importantly keep child care workers, said Zalkind.

“Turnover is disruptive to the program and it’s also harmful to kids,” said Zalkind. “It’s not healthy for kids. Kids, especially very young children need stability. They come to depend on that person.”

While education and training requirements can vary depending on the size of a center, in general, head teachers at child care centers must have a BA, which can be in any field, as long as they have related credits or experience in early childhood development. Assistant teachers are required to have one of seven different qualifications, such as an associate’s degree in early childhood education or a Child Development Associate Credential.

Comprehensive data in this area are only available for the federal Head Start child care centers, which show that nearly all have at least a child care credential and 71 percent have a degree or advanced degree in early childhood education.

With an annual average salary of $37,575, these teachers also earn almost twice as much as the average child care worker in New Jersey.

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