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Child-Care Workers Better Educated, Stay in Jobs Longer Than Previously Thought, Study States

Child-care providers spend an average of more than 10 years caring for young children, and more than half have earned at least an associate's degree—numbers that indicate a more stable, more educated workforce than previously believed, a new study states.

Fifty-three percent of day-care providers who work in centers have at least an associate's degree, up from 36 percent indicated in previous studies, the report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states.

"This suggests that investments in strengthening the early-care and education workforce can have long-lasting returns," said HHS' Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development Linda Smith, in a statement.

More than 11 million children under the age of 5 spend an average of 36 hours per week in child care, a study released earlier this week by Child Care Aware of America stated.

But many of those who take care of babies, toddlers and preschoolers continue to be paid low wages, the report states. The median income for a full-time center-based provider is $22,000 per year, and 24 percent of providers report having no health insurance, the study states.

The report catalogued the backgrounds of 10,000 child-care providers in 2012 and offers the first portrait of the workforce in two decades, it says.

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