• September 2018
  • Vol. 19, No. 7

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Supporting the Psychological Well-Being of the Early Care and Education Workforce

Although much effort has been put into improving the competency and knowledge of early care and education (ECE) professionals, research suggests supporting the mental health needs of ECE staff also can have a positive impact on their work and on the children they work with. A recent report from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services looks at the linkages between various workforce supports and ECE teachers' psychological well-being.

The study used data from the 2012 National Survey of Early Care and Education, a nationally representative survey of the ECE workforce and landscape. The survey participants were asked to answer a six-item measure from the National Health Interview Survey as well as the Kessler-6 Psychological Distress Scale to assess psychological stress.

The report provides the following findings from the study:

  • Fewer than 1 in 10 center-based ECE teachers have moderate psychological distress, and less than 1 percent have serious distress.
  • Teachers reported less psychological distress when they experienced teamwork, respect, and stability at work.
  • Teachers with less than a high school education, Asian teachers, and teachers with lower household incomes reported the highest levels of psychological stress.
  • Teachers with more stable work assignments experienced significantly less stress than teachers who, for example, had been moved to another classroom or assigned to a different group of children at least once in the past week.
  • Teachers who felt respected at work had significantly less stress than those who felt disrespected.

The article also lists recommendations to help alleviate psychological stress among ECE workers, including the following:

  • Ensure programs have a supportive and rewarding workplace climate
  • Support aspects of the workplace climate, such as teamwork and respect, that promote social connections and esteem among employees
  • Explore practices or conditions that can help alleviate financial stressors for teachers

To read the article, Supporting the Psychological Well-Being of the Early Care and Education Workforce: Findings From the National Survey of Early Care and Education, visit https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/nsece_psychological_wellbeing_612018_to_opre_508_2.pdf (1,440 KB).
 

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