Early Care & Education

Early Childhood Workforce

Early childhood professionals are highly educated, skilled and experienced yet are woefully undercompensated.


This is especially troubling because their work is critical for the healthy development of children and supporting Wisconsin’s economy. As the “workforce behind the workforce,” these professionals allow parents and caregivers of young children to go to work and be productive, dependable employees. 

Educated and Experienced

Nearly 83 percent of Wisconsin’s ECE teachers have some college education or college degree, and more than 27 percent have a bachelor’s or post-graduate degree. ECE professionals are highly experienced, with many working in the field for more than 10 years.

Low Wages, Few Benefits

Early childhood educators experience low, unlivable wages, earning a median of $11 to $13 an hour. The 2019 median wage for all workers in Wisconsin with a bachelor’s degree or higher was $28 an hour, compared to just $12 to $15 for early childhood educators with similar education.

Many of these professionals lack access to benefits, like health insurance and retirement. Just 52 percent of child care programs offer health insurance and only 20 percent of teachers participate in employersponsored plans. Meanwhile, more than half of early childhood educators rely on some form of public assistance. At the same time, one in five family child care providers are worried their own access to food may run out during the month. 

High Turnover

The strains of this reality lead to high turnover in the early childhood field. In fact, national child care employment rates have dropped by more than 8 percent since February 2020, or a total of 88,400 early childhood jobs. Wisconsin Early Childhood Association conducted a survey of 309 Wisconsin child care programs in August 2022, the results of which indicate educators continue to leave the field for better paying jobs with less stress as programs grapple with unprecedented understaffing and hiring woes. Get the snapshot of survey results here.

Para ver los resultados de la encuesta de personal de WECA en español, haga clic aquí.

Study Findings: The State of Wisconsin’s Early Childhood Workforce

Executive Summary

Program Directors

Center Teachers

Family Providers

Dig In Further

Workforce at a Glance

Get an overview of the education, experience and compensation of Wisconsin’s early childhood educators.

Child Care Counts Survey

A WECA survey shows the upcoming end of Child Care Counts is already significantly impacting early educators, child care programs, and families.