Turnover in the Center-based Child Care and Early Education Workforce: Findings from the 2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education

Research BriefEarly Childhood WorkforceMay 16 2023

Retention of the CCEE center-based workforce is important for centers, teachers, and children. Turnover, or the annual loss of teachers at a center, represents a cost for centers and lack of continuity for children and families. While some turnover is natural and may indicate a lack of fit with a particular center or the sector as a whole, high turnover can be problematic for teachers (e.g., reduced continuity of routines and relationships, stress levels), programs (e.g., increased costs to hire and train new staff, increased staff stress),1 and families (e.g., reduced continuity of care for children).2

In prior studies of the center-based workforce, turnover rates have varied across teachers, localities, sectors, and time.3 Identifying center characteristics associated with high levels of turnover could help move the field toward identifying centers at risk for high turnover and understanding work conditions that could be potential protective factors.

This snapshot provides a look at characteristics associated with high center-based workforce turnover from the 2019 National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE). The data presented were collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and can serve as a baseline for understanding the extent of turnover during and after the pandemic, when some centers were forced to close and some educators changed sectors.

This brief is part of the Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis (CCEEPRA) project. CCEEPRA supports policy and program planning and decision-making with rigorous, research-based information.


1 Cassidy, D. J., Lower, J. K., Kintner-Duffy, V. L., Hegde, A. V., & Shim, J. (2011). The Day-to-Day Reality of Teacher Turnover in Preschool Classrooms: An analysis of classroom context and teacher, director, and parent perspectives. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 25(1), 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2011.533118

2 Markowitz, A. J. (2019). Within-year teacher turnover in Head Start and children’s school readiness [EdPolicyWorks Working Paper].

3 Totenhagen, C. J., Hawkins, S. A., Casper, D. M., Bosch, L. A., Hawkey, K. R., & Borden, L. M. (2016). Retaining Early Childhood Education Workers: A Review of the Empirical Literature. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 30(4), 585–599. https://doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2016.1214652