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The Importance of Developing a Strong Culture in Early Childhood Education Workforce Recruitment and Retention

Hamid Akbari, Ph.D.

ECE Workforce Servant Leader Teachers Academy

The childcare industry is facing a national crisis of workforce shortage, with “nearly 90,000 fewer people working in the industry today compared to February 2020”, according to Vox. This problem is compounded by high rates of turnover, estimated to range “between 26-40 percent and as high as 70 percent”, as reported by illumine. For a daycare of 10 teachers, this means losing and recruiting about 3-7 teachers within a year! This cycle can be broken and replaced by centers and directors who develop a strong sense of culture among their teachers.

Culture is a shared set of values, beliefs, and practices that are adopted and displayed in any organization, including early learning centers. A positive culture includes respect, trust, inclusion, pride of profession, and team and community spirit. Open and honest communication, recognition, and rewards are some of the ways directors can develop and enhance a positive culture. The shared values and beliefs are expressed and manifested in everyday practices at the center.

To illustrate, teachers in a strong culture center may gather every three months to have fun and enjoy each other’s presence in a non-work environment. A circle of recognition and praise may be formed around a colleague who has been most helpful to their colleagues in one way or another. Each center creates its own traditions and practices that contribute to its unique culture.

Developing a positive and supportive culture can create a sense of belonging and purpose for teachers, leading to higher job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and better outcomes for children in their care. Ongoing effort and commitment from everyone involved in the center, from the director to the teachers and staff, is essential to creating and maintaining a strong culture.

If you are interested in learning more about developing a strong culture in your center, contact Hamid at hamid@sayyestochildcare.org.

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