My name is Jenna Riley, and I am a senior at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater studying social work and special education. I have worked with children since I was old enough to take care of them. This issue I am going to be discussing is very near and dear to my heart.

Did you know that dog walkers get paid more than early childhood teachers in Wisconsin? Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs and have two dogs of my own, but children are our future.

Dog walkers require no education or training. Early childhood teachers have to follow strict state licensing requirements for education and training.

According to indeed.com, the average wage per hour in Wisconsin for an early childhood teacher is $11.83. Also according to indeed.com, the average wage per hour in Wisconsin for a dog walker is $13.83. Most teachers cannot afford to stay in the field because they can’t live on this wage. They often have one or two other jobs just to make it through the month. I have been working at a high quality early care and education program. Out of 16 teachers, a third have at least one other job. Early childcare and education programs are funded primarily by parent tuition. In order for teachers to make a higher hourly wage, more funding is needed beyond what parents can afford. Other sources of funding are needed to pay teachers higher wages. If we care about our future, we need to make this a priority.

You may be asking yourself, “What can I do?” You can:

Educate yourself by watching the documentary “No Small Matter,” as this is the most informative documentary I have ever watched on this issue.

If you are in the business community, you can get educated to better understand this issue and help subsidized early childhood programs so that teachers can get paid higher wages. With no childcare teachers, there will be no childcare programs. With no childcare programs, it will impact our workforce.

Use social media to educate others.

Jenna Riley

City of Verona