Who is Caring for Latino Children? The Characteristics of the Early Care and Education Teachers and Caregivers Serving a High Proportion of Hispanic Children

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodJul 31 2018

The child population in the United States is becoming increasingly diverse, led, in part, by the growth in the Hispanic child population. As a result, any disadvantages that Hispanic children face are increasingly important on a national scale. Latino children, on average, score lower on common measures of school readiness—including cognitive, literacy, and numeracy skills—relative to their black and white peers. These gaps are more pronounced when neither parent in the household speaks English.

An expanding body of research indicates that high-quality early care and education (ECE) programs support children’s development, and can help close racial/ethnic gaps in school readiness, especially for low-income and non-English-speaking children. The effects of ECE are largely dependent on the teachers and caregivers in these programs, yet we know little about who teaches and cares for Hispanic children before they enter primary school.

This brief examines three aspects of the ECE workforce that are linked with how children learn, their socioemotional development, and classroom environment and quality of care.

  1. Training, experience, and education
  2. Attitudes, including motivations for working with children
  3. Linguistic and racial and ethnic diversity

Drawing from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE), the first nationally representative survey to provide a national portrait of the ECE workforce, we examine these characteristics across three teacher or caregiver types: center-based staff (which includes lead and assistant teachers, as well as aides working in Head Start, Pre-K, and other community-based centers); listed, home-based teachers and caregivers (which generally includes those who care for at least one child with whom they have no prior relationship); and unlisted, home-based teachers and caregivers (which generally includes relatives, friends, and neighbors who provide care to children with whom they had a prior relationship). We compared these features of the workforce among teachers and caregivers of children ages 0 to 5 working in high-Hispanic-serving settings (defined as settings where 25 percent or more of the children served are Hispanic) with those in low-Hispanic-serving settings (i.e., those teachers and caregivers in settings where less than 25 percent of the children enrolled are Hispanic).