Michigan Early Care and Education Workforce Study

Supporting early care and education for children through professional enhancement of educators.

Research indicates that the knowledge and skills of early educators are the most important ingredients in high-quality early care and education (ECE). Increasingly, policy makers are recognizing that if ECE is to live up to its promises of preparing young children for elementary school and beyond, it is critical to elevate the profession; in particular, the policies and infrastructure that support the professional preparation and ongoing professional learning opportunities available to early educators, as well as the compensation and working conditions of the professionals in the field

Recognizing the importance of a thriving ECE workforce, the Michigan Department of Education and Office of Great Start commissioned the Butler Institute for Families, NORC, and the University of Colorado, Denver to perform a study of Michigan’s ECE providers. The study examined qualifications and professional development needs, employment conditions, and well-being of Michigan’s workforce serving children from birth to age five across job roles, ECE settings, geographic locations, and age groups.

The study surveyed 685 early educators, among whom were 189 administrators, 168 lead teachers, 68 assistant teachers, and 260 family child care (FCC) providers. Research staff calculated descriptive statistics and cross-tabulations to provide an overview of the characteristics of the sample, aspects of the settings in which they work, their perceptions of their work lives and well-being, and perceived barriers to higher education and professional development.

  • Across job roles, nearly 90% of early educators self-identified themselves as white.
  • Approximately 79% of administrators, 72% of lead teachers, 27% of assistant teachers, and 34% of family child care providers had at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Approximately 93% of respondents reported receiving at least one public subsidy reserved for low-income individuals and families. Approximately one in five educators indicated that they were struggling to pay bills and make ends meet.
  • Annual turnover rates ranged from 13% for administrators to 30% for lead teachers and 46% for assistant teachers.
  • Across administrators, lead teachers, and assistant teachers, approximately two-thirds of respondents indicated better pay as an important factor in job retention.
  • By identifying the current strengths, gaps, and unmet needs in the field, the study’s findings can help inform the development of policies and infrastructure to enhance the professional lives of the adults who serve Michigan’s youngest children.

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