Early childhood teachers play a key role in creating positive teacher-child relationships, which are shown to promote child outcomes. However, turnover rates of early childhood teachers are strikingly high, which may compromise the quality of teacher-child relationships. Lack of early childhood education program policies (i.e., wage, benefits, and teacher support) may contribute to such high turnover rates.
This study examined whether the availability of early childhood program policies is related to program-level lead and assistant teacher turnover rates. We hypothesized that turnover rates would be higher in programs that do not offer these policies.
Participants were 354 early childhood providers working in center-based programs. Data came from the Year 3 Child Care provider Survey, part of the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study. Independent t-tests were used to compare the program-level lead and assistant teacher turnover rates in programs that do versus do not provide wage, benefits, and teacher support policies.
Results showed that teacher turnover rates were generally higher in programs where policies were not available. While lead teachers’ turnover rates were significantly higher in programs where only a few wage and benefit policies were not available, assistant teachers’ turnover rates were significantly higher in programs that did not offer many more wage and benefit policies and some teacher support policies.
Providing wage, benefit, and teacher support policies in the early childhood programs may help programs retain teachers. Further examination of the availability and usability of early childhood education program policies and how they may motivate teachers to stay or leave the program is needed.