America’s youngest kids need good teachers. Why is it so difficult to find them?

In the US, it’s not uncommon for a preschool teacher to make less than a tree trimmer. Childcare workers are often out-earned by janitors. The people caring for America’s youngest and most vulnerable are chronically underpaid and work in strenuous conditions, making it a struggle to recruit and train people for those jobs.

Bright Horizons, one of the biggest private childcare providers in the US, believes it has a solution. The company employs 20,000 teachers who care for about 100,000 children in more than 700 centers across the country. Last July, it rolled out an offer to pay upfront for its employees to get an online degree in early childhood education, expanding on an existing tuition assistance benefit program for staff.

As part of the program, educators working full-time in Bright Horizons childcare centers are eligible for upfront free tuition, including things like books, with no out-of-pocket costs. In exchange, participants commit to working at Bright Horizons for 18 months after getting their degree.

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