Turnover among early childhood teachers in Nebraska is a problem
The Buffett Early Childhood Institute partnered with two other organizations and are hosting a series of film screenings and forums across the state. They visited Lincoln on Wednesday.
The goal is to bring attention to the high turnover rate among early childhood teachers in Nebraska.
"It's so disappointing, until we change our mindset and understand that we are raising young children, we're educating them from birth," Director of Westminster Preschool, Suzanne Schneider said.
The Buffett Institute found that the average annual turnover rate for early childhood teachers was 26% in licensed child care, 15% in state-funded Pre-K, and 16% in Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
"The most important thing for a child when there in any kind of childcare or early childhood setting is the relationship with the teacher and when that teacher is leaving you can't build that relationship," Director of Workforce Planning and Development at the Buffett Institute, Susan Sarver said.
According to the child care administrators survey, the most common reason teachers left their jobs was low pay.
The median annual salary for child care professionals in 2015 was just over $18,000. This is below the poverty line for a family of three.
"You can not support a family on $11 an hour, so many people in our field are supplementing by taking second jobs or working to supplement their family income and therefore they are not able to invest into the early childhood children that are with them every day," Schneider said.
Even though pay is a big reason people are leaving early childhood jobs, some say the reward as a teacher makes it all worthwhile.
"Even though the financial benefits are not huge, it's a great place to be because it's the best way to have an impact on a child because what they are doing with them as an early childhood teacher is going to change them forever," Sarver said.
"There are other benefits that go along with working with young children that out weigh that pay so I wouldn't give up on that idea. We need quality people to come in and make a difference in young children's lives," Schneider said.
The Founding Executive Director at the Buffett Institute says a person can make more money working at a fast food restaurant than caring for and educating young children.