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High turnover rate among Nebraska’s early childhood teachers

January 27, 2019

OMAHA - The University of Nebraska recently conducted the largest state survey of early childhood educators from birth to grade 3 and found the turnover rate for teachers is extremely high. Dr. Susan Sarver is the director of workforce planning and development at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute and says these positions require a lot of skill and knowledge and many teachers are leaving the profession due to extremely poor pay.Dr. Sarver says, “We know that teachers in early licensed early childhood settings are making a median salary below the poverty line for a family a three. That makes it really difficult to stay in a job that requires a lot of skill and knowledge and really important to children and families.”In 2015, the median annual salary for child care professionals in Nebraska was $18,706. The Institute found the average annual turnover rate for early childhood teachers was 26 percent in licensed child care settings, 15 percent in state-funded Pre-K settings and 16 percent in Kindergarten through Grade 3 settings.Dr. Sarver says, “When there is frequent teacher turnover and lack of consistency of care, especially in the early, formative years, it can have devastating effects on the child and the learning process.”The study also shows that 62 percent of child care administrators report it is very difficult to find replacements. The average time span is two months to fill each vacancy.The Buffett Institute formed the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission in 2016 with a goal to develop recommendations and an action plan to address the challenges facing early childhood workforce in the state. This is the final year of their three year study and the results should be made available later this year.

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