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Food insecurity in a nationally representative sample of child care workers


Women and people of color account for the majority of the child care workforce. This workforce is essential to providing high-quality early childhood education to young children. Unfortunately, child care workers continue to be undervalued and underpaid, with low wages and few benefits. These low wages may lead to lifelong adverse outcomes, including poor mental and physical health. Therefore, this study aimed to examine child care workers’ food practices and food insecurity using a nationally representative sample from the Current Population Survey completed in December 2020. Results indicated that 40% of child care workers are below 185% of the federal poverty guidelines. Most child care workers bought food in a supermarket or grocery store in the last week (90.7%), and on average, child care workers reported that they spent $170.63 on food last week. Eighteen percent of child care workers indicated that they needed more money each week to buy food. Approximately one-third of child care workers reported running out of money and trying to make their food or food money go further (31.6%). For food program participation, 21.9% of child care workers received SNAP benefits. Notably, 31.2% of child care workers experienced food insecurity. Although Black child care workers represented 16.6% of the sample, they represented 28.5% of those reporting high to very high food insecurity. Total family income was also associated with food insecurity, such that households with lower income had higher food insecurity. Finally, 26% of child care workers experiencing high to very high food insecurity were not utilizing SNAP benefits. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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