Cathryn Schmidt is an early childhood educator. Not a new one. A 10-year veteran.
She works three jobs to survive, one of them is a desk job at a 24 Hour Fitness. It’s a 70-hour workweek.
“I make $17.33 an hour,” she said of her Denver teaching job.
Schmidt has a bachelor’s degree and a dual master’s degree in early childhood education and curriculum design and implementation, a director’s license, a teacher’s license and dozens of certificates.
But Schmidt said she’s lucky. Her degrees have boosted her wage to about $32,000 a year.
On average, most Colorado child care teachers who lead classrooms with children ages 0-4, make on average $26,875 a year. Their aides and assistants make even less. CPR News contacted dozens of early educators and directors and their stories are similar.
Naj’la Kimball teaches 4-year-olds. Before the pandemic, she put in 14-hour work days, six days a week, working from 7 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the preschool and then 4:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. as a stocking manager.
“The thing that keeps me going really is my kids,” Kimball said, referring to her class of 4-year-olds. “They’ve survived this whole COVID trauma I think because of the consistency myself and my co-teacher have been able to provide.”
-Jenny Brundin, CPR