Terri and Caitlyn shared their stories as part of MECEP’s State of Working Maine 2022 report. Click here to view the full report, as well as other workers’ stories.
Terri Crocker is the owner of Creative Play Childcare in Bath, serving 32 children ages 5 months to 13 years old. Terri has worked in early childhood education for 29 years, and as the owner of Creative Play for 19 years.
“Our early childhood education system is sinking. There are so many families in Maine with no options for child care. So many programs are closing. Waitlists are growing. Staff are leaving for jobs with better wages and less burnout, and families can’t handle the rate increases.
We need more home-based child care, but it’s hard because of the different rules for licensing and building and fire codes in each town. The confusion discourages a lot of people from starting a home-based business.
Early childhood educators need livable wages, benefits, and appreciation for the work they do. Most are college-educated professionals or empathetic, passionate caregivers. Public investment in early childhood education would encourage more people to pursue a career in child care and benefit families from all economic backgrounds. That in turn would boost our workforce nationwide and strengthen our education system.”
Caitlyn Belanger is a preschool teacher in her fourth year at Creative Play. She works with 12 children ages 2 to 4.
“Right now, the biggest struggle is finding educated people and keeping them in the field. Many educators left child care to find higher paying jobs.
Everywhere is short-staffed right now, but in child care, being short-staffed leads to overworking and burnout. Wages have been an issue for years, especially compared to other fields. In early childhood we teach children the fundamentals they need to move forward with their learning, yet there is a significant gap between K-12 and early child educator pay.
Our love and passion we put into our work hasn’t changed, but the need for quality care is high and no one seems to want to go into child care anymore.”