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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Washington: Child-care Providers Experience Poor Mental Well-being, High Rates of Food Insecurity

Child-care providers play an important role in the development and health of about 10 million young children enrolled in early child care centers in the United States. They teach kids how to care for themselves by keeping good hygiene, eating healthfully, moving their bodies, and navigating new emotions and social spaces.

But what about the well-being of the teachers themselves?

Researchers from the University of Washington School of Public Health are examining the health of this workforce and how changes in wage could make a difference. In a study published last month in Health Affairs, data show that these teachers earn low wages and experience poor mental well-being and high rates of food insecurity.

“More than 40 percent were showing signs of food insecurity, including some who were showing signs of hunger,” lead author Dr. Jennifer Otten told WTOP Radio. Dr. Otten is an associate professor of environmental and occupational sciences and core faculty in the Nutritional Sciences Program. “How can we expect child care teachers to be hungry and care for children for eight hours? That was a striking finding.”

Additionally, 40 percent of teachers in the study, most of whom were women, were clinically depressed. This is double the national rates for women with family incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level and nearly quadruple the prevalence found in women overall.

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