United Way for Greater Austin has released the 2012 Early Care and Education Survey – a detailed look at trends across early care and education centers in Travis County, including key data about quality and availability.
Compared with previous editions, this year’s survey shows some encouraging trends but also points to clear challenges. Key findings include:
- Early care and education teachers, on average, made between $9.82 and $13.92 per hour with limited benefits. This is roughly half of wages for public school Pre-K teachers.
- Teacher education varies greatly between the regions of Travis County. In South and West Austin, the percent of teachers with at least a bachelor’s degree is nearly double the percent in North, East and Central Austin.
- Survey results indicated a large shift in center priorities. In 2010, reducing parent fees was listed as one of the top three priorities for 50% of all centers surveyed. In 2012, it registered as a top priority of only 5.5% of centers.
Since we started conducting this survey, strides have been made in teacher education, benefits and retention, but these areas still have significant room for growth. Center directors across the board stressed the need for increased staff wages to properly compensate and motivate teachers, especially when raising education requirements for teachers. Funding increases and community support for the early care and education community are necessary to make these changes happen.
“The survey was conceived to help improve and consolidate knowledge of early care and education centers and provide a valuable planning tool for early childhood stakeholders,” said Sue Carpenter, Senior Director of Success By 6. “We hope center directors can use this tool to measure their own programs against community trends and all of us who work in this community can use this as a benchmark as we work to improve the quality of care for our youngest community members.”
Success By 6 works to make sure every child is ready for kindergarten by improving the complex networks of child care services, parent education, public and private funding and public policy in the Central Texas community.