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It’s getting even harder to hire early childhood educators

October 30, 2017
Priska Neely

Selma Sanchez spent the summer in a hiring frenzy. She’s the program director of the Child Development Consortium of Los Angeles (CDCLA), and at one of the preschool sites, almost all of the jobs needed to be filled.

“In July we lost our director,” Sanchez said. “June and July – we lost three teachers.”

Most of the staff left to work at a Head Start center that’s recently opened nearby  – the federal preschool program pays slightly better than her state subsidized program. One lead teacher left the preschool in Canoga Park after 10 years, for a job as a teacher’s aide at Head Start – fewer responsibilities, more pay.

Teachers from a temp agency are filling some of the slots now and Sanchez, who normally oversees all 10 sites around L.A. County, spent weeks commuting to the site to teach kids in the classroom, to fill out reports, to cook and to clean.

“I’ve been interviewing like crazy,” said Sanchez. “We can’t compete with salaries.”

She wants to hire teachers with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, but most won’t settle for the $20 per hour she can pay.

One of the last teachers Sanchez hired had never taken a child development class.

“She had like over five years of experience, but no education, and that’s who we hired,” she said. “That’s all I could get.”