While many efforts to improve the quality of early care and education (ECE) have focused on increasing teachers’ and caregivers’ competencies and knowledge specific to the teaching of young children, a small body of research suggests that an ECE workforce that is mentally healthy can provide the best-quality care for children.
Quality improvement efforts for ECE often focus on increasing teachers’ and caregivers’ competencies and knowledge specific to the teaching of young children. Now, a growing body of research suggests that supporting caregivers’ psychological well-being may also be a worthy goal. This report addresses an important next step in this work: understanding the linkages between various workforce supports and teachers’ psychological well-being.
The findings from this report can be used to guide practices and policies in ECE programs to support teachers’ psychological well-being. This report will also be helpful for researchers because it describes future studies that could be undertaken to answer remaining questions about the psychological well-being of the ECE workforce.
- Fewer than one in ten center-based ECE teachers have moderate psychological distress, and less than one percent experience serious distress.
- ECE teachers were less likely than the general population of adult females to experience serious psychological distress.
- Teachers had less psychological distress when they experienced teamwork, respect, and stability at work.
- Other workforce supports were hypothesized to be important for ECE teachers’ well-being, but were not significantly associated with teachers’ distress. These included (a) group size/ratio, (b) availability of coaching/mentoring, (c) financial support for professional development, (d) substantive supervision, and (e) support for the teacher in dealing with difficult children and parents.
- Teachers with lower household incomes reported greater psychological distress.