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Child care providers push California to boost pay for early education teachers

August 9, 2019
Zaldee Stavely

When a preschool teacher at a San Mateo center began to struggle to interact with children, supervisors became concerned. The reason for the teacher’s drop in performance?

She was hungry.

“Our teachers are having to make choices between rent and food and getting to work,” said Heather Cleary, CEO at Peninsula Family Service, which runs nine centers for low-income children in San Mateo County. “Some of our children come with a lot of trauma and for our teachers to also have their own trauma that they’re bringing to work makes it really challenging to provide a quality learning environment.”

Preschool teachers are six times more likely to live in poverty than K-12 teachers, according to a recent report by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley and the Economic Policy Institute. While Gov. Gavin Newsom has committed to expanding and improving early childhood education in California, a plan to increase pay for early-education teachers is missing from the 2019-20 budget.