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UW researchers find high rates of depression among child care workers


Researchers at the University of Washington have been examining the health of child care workers and one thing they've found is high rates of depression.

Heather Hill is an associate professor at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington and one of the authors of the study. She said they were surprised by the levels of depression the child care workers reported.

“Forty percent of them were showing clinically significant levels of depression," Hill said. "That’s double what you would find for women with low incomes in the U.S. generally and about four times what you would find for women overall."

They used women as a comparison group because the child care workforce is predominantly women. Hill said possible reasons for the high rates of depression emerged in focus groups with child care workers.

“They describe the jobs as extremely stressful, extremely demanding, but with very low status and a lot of what’s experienced as disrespect from both parents and society more generally,” Hill said.

This research is part of a multi-year study examining the effects of minimum wage increases on the health of child care workers. The researchers have been studying the health of child care workers in Seattle, South King County and Austin, Texas.