Research findings: This study uses newly available data on low-income children and their teachers in a mixed-delivery, publicly funded early care and education (ECE) system to document the prevalence of personal and economic stressors that ECE teachers experience. We go on to explore whether these stressors are associated with child academic, self-regulatory, and social outcomes. Results indicate that ECE teachers in our sample report a high degree of personal and economic stressors – for instance, rates of depression and food insecurity are relatively high. Yet, these stressors’ associations with child outcomes are often weak and inconsistent. Practice and policy: ECE teachers in publicly funded settings face high expectations but are paid astonishingly low wages, which may contribute to high stress. More research is needed to understand why the many stressors teachers report did not consistently predict child outcomes in this study. What enables teachers to compartmentalize or absorb their personal and economic stressors such that their students are protected from its impacts? How can this information be applied to professional development focused on improving teacher wellbeing? Regardless of associations with child outcomes, reducing stressors reported by ECE teachers is a worthy practice priority because children deserve healthy and economically secure teachers and a worthy policy priority from a human rights perspective. (author abstract)
Everyday heroes: The personal and economic stressors of early care and education teachers serving low-income children
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