Edit ModuleShow Tags

Teacher Turnover in Child Care Hurts Everyone


Published:

Each workday in North Carolina, more than 100,000 children spend their time in child care while their parents work. Finding the right setting for your child is an important decision - one that takes time and can be discouraging.

We are fortunate in North Carolina to have the "Star" rating system that gives parents a benchmark in helping to make the best decision. The 5-Star Rating System evaluates child care programs based on their licensing compliance history, program standards and teacher education. Higher stars indicate higher quality care. But the stars don't answer all the questions; each rating represents a large segment of the child-care quality spectrum. There is a great deal of variety within each star level, and there often is overlap across the ratings. For example, Smart Start, the state's nationally recognized early care and education initiative, considers 3-, 4- and 5-star ratings to indicate high quality care.

So, once a family has selected a few possible child care options, they have asked if the child care program is licensed, they have asked about the star rating and health department ratings, and checked out any complaints against the program, what's next?

One crucial element to consider is teacher turnover. And here's why. The most important element in a high quality child-care experience is the classroom teacher. All the toys in the world can't give a child what a great teacher can.

During the earliest years of life, children are developing attachments to the significant adults in their lives. Strong emotional attachments allow children to develop a sense of trust and to build healthy relationships with other people. When these attachments are not strong and secure, children may suffer the emotional consequences for the rest of their lives.

In an article titled "High Turnover of Child-care Teachers Hurts Everybody," written for Pennsylvania State University's Office of Public Information, Dr. Elizabeth Manlove, assistant professor of human development and family studies in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development writes: "High turnover in child care deprives children of one of the most crucial elements necessary for healthy development, ongoing relationships with a limited number of sensitive and caring adults who know the child well."

Before a child can learn, he must feel safe and free to make his needs known. When he develops a strong emotional bond with his teacher, he will have the best opportunity to explore and learn in his environment.

Building a trusting relationship with a young child takes time and a great deal of positive interaction between adult and child. When a child's teacher leaves, the attachment process is interrupted and the child usually feels a sense of loss and may regress in his emotional development. Any kind of interruption of a child's primary caregiver needs to be handled thoughtfully, making sure the child has time to understand that her teacher is leaving, ideally has a transition period with the new teacher before the teacher leaves and has a chance to say goodbye.

When a teacher leaves suddenly without time for adequate planning, centers may have to hire substitute teachers for some period of time before a permanent teacher is hired. This creates another time of interruption, readjustment and challenge for young children. These changes require children to develop relationships with one or more different substitute teachers with different personalities and often with varying abilities to manage a classroom of young children.

Children often respond to teacher turnover with refusals to go to school, crying when parents leave them and renewed fears and insecurities.

In addition to the important implications for children, teacher turnover is problematic to other teachers in a child care program. Although we may not think about child-care settings as businesses, they are. When staff members leave, it affects the efficiency of the organization. When a teacher leaves, the teachers who are left behind often must assume extra responsibilities and may have to shift their duties to fill in for the missing teacher. This becomes an added burden for the teachers and may in turn affect their own classrooms and children.

Teacher turnover is an ongoing burden for child-care centers, as well. If 30 percent of a center's teachers leave every year, a great deal of time and money must be invested by the center in recruiting and retraining qualified teachers. And finding and hiring new teachers with appropriate education and credentials to maintain the program's licensure and standards is a continuing challenge. Furthermore, many families remove their children from a center with high teacher turnover, resulting in significant loss in revenue to the center.

The child-care industry in North Carolina is a major industry, employing more than 46,000 people and generating over $1.5 billion in revenues. But the profit margin is low, and teachers and staff are not highly paid. The average salary for a child-care teacher in North Carolina is currently $15,000 per year; many have few or no benefits such as paid time off and health-care benefits.

The issues that result in high teacher turnover are complex. Two of the most obvious are low wages and inadequate benefits.

To assure that teachers have good qualifications and that child-care teachers remain in their child-care programs, teachers must receive salaries commensurate with their education and experience. And families cannot pay the full cost through their parent fees alone. Since research demonstrates the direct link between good outcomes for young children in child care and the long term benefits to society, additional public and private resources must be tapped to solve this problem.

Many variables go into making the child-care experience the best it can be for your child. Minimizing the effects of teacher turnover is an important part of that formula. When parents and teachers work together, the transition can be smooth, and a new and exciting relationship can begin.

Teacher Turnover Q & A

Should I ask my center about turnover?

Yes! When selecting a child-care facility, you are the "consumer" and should feel completely comfortable asking any questions like, "How many of your teachers have been here for longer than two years?" and "How long have you been with this center?"

What if a caregiver leaves suddenly?

Always address your concerns with the center staff or director. If you come in one morning, and your child's teacher isn't there, ask why. Maybe she's sick or on vacation. If you discover that she has resigned, ask about the center's plans: "Are you going to hire new staff or move existing staff?" and "How long do you anticipate this transition period to be?"

Talk to your child about the change in honest, simple terms. "Billy, Ms. Jones is going to be with her Mommy this week because her Mommy is sick. While she is gone, Ms. Watson will be here to play with you. Aren't you lucky that you get to make a new friend this week?" Or, "Sally, you have a new teacher. This is Ms. Harris, and I am so excited that you get to meet someone new who will teach you new and fun things"

It's also a good idea to give the new teacher specific details about your child to help them develop a rapport. "Mr. Wilson, Tony loves dinosaurs and got to see a big one at the museum last week. Ask him to tell you more about it."

Remember that your child takes their cues from you. If you are upset about the change, share those feelings with adults when your child is not listening. Encourage your child to be as open as possible to this new person.

Can I help my child and new teacher adjust to each other?

Communication is key. Introduce yourself to the new teacher. Plan to spend a little extra time in the morning or in the afternoon in the classroom to get to know the teacher.

Be sensitive to the fact that the teacher has to pay attention to all the children and their parents. Ask what you can do to help make things easier during the transition.

Remember that no two children are alike and no two teachers are alike. A new teacher will do some things differently from the previous one. These differences aren't necessarily bad. Use a new teacher's unique gifts as an opportunity to show your child that every teacher brings a special talent or strength to the classroom.

 

Karen Ponder is the president of the North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC). Greer Bowen Beaty is a member of the NCPC staff and the mother of two children in child care.

Call 919-821-7999 or visit Smart Start and the N.C. Partnership for Children (www.ncsmartstart.org) for more information, or call the state Division of Child Development at 800-859-0829 (http://ncchildcare.dhhs.state.nc.us/general/home.asp).

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Colorful Backpacks, Free Math Apps and Positive Parenting

Our picks of products this month offer aids to positive parenting and back-to-school organization. Look also for free math apps and colorful backpacks.

Separation Adjustment: Helping Children Say Goodbye

For both working and stay-at-home parents, helping a child adjust to being in new places is an inevitable step of early childhood.

Early Learning: The Importance of the First Five Years

On August 20, 2014, Carolina Parent hosted a live Facebook chat with Primrose Schools on the importance of early education and development for children during their first five years. Here's a transcript of the conversation:
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

February 2016

Enjoy extreme thrills, exotic animals and extraordinary performers. See website for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join preserve staff to search pools for salamanders. Ages 10-13. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy extreme thrills, exotic animals and extraordinary performers. See website for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
PNC Arena
1400 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn how salamanders are different from lizards. Ages 1-3 with adult. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. Registration required.

Cost: $2/child

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Learn about butterflies through a story, game and craft. Ages 3-5 with adult. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. Registration required.

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy songs, stories and fun in Spanish. Infants-preschoolers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Spanish for fun! Cary
100 Endeavor Way
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Sponsor: Spanish for fun!
Telephone: 919-677-7114
Contact Name: Cynthia De Amat
Website »

More information

Children make treasured memories while increasing their knowledge of plants and animals. Ages 7-10. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy songs, stories and fun in Spanish. Infants-preschoolers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Spanish for fun! Raleigh
8000 Glenwood Ave
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Spanish for fun!
Telephone: 919-881-1160
Contact Name: Carol Marin
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Kids ages 3-5 and caregiver make a craft together. Registration required.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-567-4000
Website »

More information

Enjoy storytime and a stuffed animal giveaway (one per child). Each family will be entered to into the weekly drawing among attendees for a gift bag. Event capped at 20 families to ensure a safe...

Cost: Free

Where:
Thrift 2 Gift
1402 E. Williams St.
Apex , NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy songs, stories and fun in Spanish. Infants-preschoolers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Spanish for fun! Wake Forest
222 Capcom Ave
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Spanish for fun!
Telephone: 919-883-2061
Contact Name: Karina Martinez
Website »

More information

Scott Ellsworth discusses his book, "The Secret Game." Coach John McLendon, basketball coach for the little-known North Carolina College for Negroes, invited the all-white team of former...

Cost: Free

Where:
Jones Theater, Ravenscroft School
7409 Falls of Neuse Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Sponsor: Ravenscroft School
Telephone: 919-847-0900
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a walk to count the variety of birds in the area. All ages. Meet at the picnic table at the New Hill Parking Area. Registration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Take a walk to count the variety of birds in the area. All ages. Meet at the picnic table at the New Hill Parking Area. Registration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Learn tips to identify birds and how to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count. Hike along the shoreline to practice new skills and count birds. Meet at the Longleaf Shelter. Registration...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Take a night hike to learn about owls and other birds that are active at night. Dress for the weather. Appropriate for ages 6 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $5/family

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends. Ages 8-12. Registration required.

Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy an indoor presentation before going outdoors to view the moon, stars and more using the preserve's telescope. Ages 5 and older. Register online.

Cost: $2/person

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
11408 Raven Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-996-6764
Website »

More information

Learn about owls and take a hike to listen for them. Ages 5 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $5/family

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy doughnuts with a cup of hot chocolate before taking a leisurely walk with a park naturalist to identify and count birds. Take a mug for all family members. All ages. Registration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Learn to identify common winter birds by sight and sound. Visit the bird-feeding station for up-close encounters and make recycled feeders to take home. Ages 6-12 with adult.

Cost: $8/member, $10/nonmember

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolina Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3770
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
Website »

More information

Drumming and stories for ages 3 and up with parent. Drums to loan.

Cost: $10/family

Where:
Music Explorium
5314 Hwy. 55, Ste. 107
Durham, NC  27713
View map »


Telephone: 919-219-2371
Website »

More information

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Learn tricks to attract and keep feathered friends happy all year long, from planting "bird friendly" plants to making sure they have the basics for a happy life in your yard....

Cost: Free

Where:
Garden Supply Company
1421 Old Apex Road
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Sponsor: Garden Supply Company
Telephone: 919-460-7747
Website »

More information

Take a wagon ride through the back roads of the park to view birds and record observations. All ages. Meet at the wagon on the playground. Registration required.

Cost: $4/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Use natural objects to create birds found in the woods and build your own make-believe bird. Paint pictures using feathers and learn the importance of color in birds. All ages. Registration...

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Read "Love Monster and the Last Chocolate" and enjoy fun activities.

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
760 S.E Maynard Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Website »

More information

Stop by the manager's office to enjoy bird-related games, activities and crafts.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Join a park naturalist on a one-mile hike around the pond and help to identify and count the birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Learn how to identify backyard birds by sight, sound and other...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Look for tracks and signs of wolves, coyotes and foxes and make a plaster cast of a favorite wild dog's paw to take home. Ages 5-8. Register online.

Cost: $5/child

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
11408 Raven Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-996-6764
Website »

More information

Ages 4 and older enjoy a free art activity.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Southern Home Crafts
111 N. Salem St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Telephone: 919-233-1598

More information

Learn about owls. Hike along the trails to search for them. All ages. Meet at the Longleaf Shelter. Registration required.

Cost: $5/family

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Girls ages 10 and older learn how to set goals and stay  on a path to achieve them. Supplies provided; bring magazines. Refreshments provided. Purchase tickets online at...

Cost: $15

Where:
Clubhouse
3001 New Haven Dr
RTP, NC  27703
View map »


Sponsor: BOLT- Building Our Leaders Today
Telephone: 704-900-1878
Contact Name: Julese Dortch
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Newsletter Sign-Up

Stay connected to what's going on for kids and families in the Triangle by signing up for our FREE e-newsletters!

Subscribe

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Exceptional Child

Children with special needs face unique challenges. Find resources from A-Z in areas of advocacy, education, camps and therapies to support them as they grow.

GPS [Go. Play. See]

Triangle parents are busy and on the go. Browse our GPS guide to explore 1,155 family-friendly resources located across the region.

Education Guide

The 2015-16 Education Guide offers 539 education resources in the Triangle, including local preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.