NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Growing Shortage Of Day Care Workers

September 20, 1999

In areas across the nation, working parents are finding it increasingly difficult to find day care centers open to new enrollees. For example, one mother in the Washington, D.C., area was told by one center that it had a waiting list of 100 names, and at another center that the wait would be 16 months. She concluded that she should have signed up before she got pregnant.

  • Day care workers are being lured away by better paying jobs in other sectors of the economy, at a time when there is an influx of an estimated 1.5 million children of former welfare recipients who are now holding jobs.
  • Los Angeles County officials recently projected a shortfall of 150,000 day care slots because of staff shortages, while the national YMCA -- which runs programs before and after school for 350,000 children -- has stopped expanding because it can't find workers.
  • In Colorado, more than 1,000 providers have quit in the last year.
  • Turnover among day care workers averaged 30 percent in 1997.

National median earnings for family day care providers are $4.69 an hour, while child care center workers get $7.03.

Source: Jacqueline L. Salmon, "For Many Children, Nowhere to Go," Washington Post, September 19, 1999.


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