ISU Extension and Outreach Offers Retirement Education for Child Care Providers

September 1, 2017, 8:43 am | Carolyn Steckelberg, Laura Sternweis

AMES, Iowa – Iowa’s child care providers help young children be ready for school and future success. They can better focus on that important task if they aren’t worried about their financial security, says Carolyn Steckelberg, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.Retirement Plan

According to “2016 Working in Early Care and Education in Iowa,” a center-based workforce report prepared by the Child Care Services Association, most teachers and assistant teachers make below the living wage in Iowa. Child care providers working in for-profits with multiple sites have a median lowest wage of $8.93 per hour and a highest median wage of $13 per hour. Employees in nonprofit programs directed by community boards have a median starting wage of just $8.90 per hour and typically have a top wage of $11. These types of centers are the most prevalent form of organization in the state, at 39 percent.

“Fewer than half of the programs provided some help with health insurance, with 6 percent fully paying for health insurance for their staff and 37 percent paying some portion of health premiums,” said Steckelberg, who specializes in family finance.

Retirement benefits were offered in fewer than half of the programs as well, at 43 percent, and disability insurance was offered in about a fourth of all early care and education centers (26 percent).

According to “The Cost of Living in Iowa 2016 Edition” prepared by the Iowa Policy Project, a young, single adult with no children and without health insurance from an employer requires a household supporting hourly wage of $13.16. A young, single adult with no children and with health insurance from an employer requires a household supporting hourly wage of $11.69.

“The basic needs budget developed for this report represents a very frugal living standard and is based on what is needed to survive. The basic budget does not include any savings for retirement,” Steckelberg said.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers two in-person workshops to help providers begin planning for retirement. In “Cent$ible Child Care Provider Training: First Steps Toward Retirement,” providers learn why it is important to prepare for retirement. They learn about factors that affect Social Security income, see how even small savings add up and identify ways they can save for retirement through their job or on their own.

In “Cent$ible Child Care Provider Training: Next Steps for Retirement,” providers learn how to calculate their retirement readiness and consider how to invest for their retirement. They also learn how to identify available tax-advantaged options and desirable characteristics in a financial adviser.

Each workshop counts as two hours in the Child Development Associate Credential content area of maintaining a commitment to professionalism. The CDA Credential is a nationally recognized credential earned by those working in the early care and education field, Steckelberg said.

“Financial education designed for the providers who teach our young children allows them to focus on their important work, decreases turnover and ensures greater stability in classrooms,” Steckelberg said.

For more information on these workshops, contact an ISU Extension and Outreach human sciences specialist in family finance. Contact information may be found online at  

Photo credit: MaryPerry/

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