Civic News

Meet Linda Hines, a childcare worker looking to advance her career

Hines is one of many older adults in Philadelphia who have stayed in the workforce through the pandemic. Listen to her story in this installment of's Thriving audio series.

Linda Hines at home. (Photo by Dominique Nichole)

This report is part of Thriving, a yearlong storytelling initiative from focused on the lived experiences of Philadelphia and comparative city residents. The goal is to generate insights about the economic opportunities and obstacles along their journeys to financial security. Here's who we're focusing on and why.

Linda Hines feels like she’s always been taking care of kids.

“When my kids were younger, I would take the whole neighborhood to the movies, the skating rink, because the parents weren’t going to take them,” she said. “I always had children with me.”

Hines’ love for children eventually led to a career in early childhood education.

When the coronavirus pandemic started, more than 3 million Americans retired early, adding to the country’s disrupted labor shortage. Hines was not among them.

She continued working at Shane’s Friends, a daycare center not far from where she grew up in South Philly.

There are about 60,000 working adults over the age of 65 in Philadelphia who are white, like Linda. The group shrinks to about 16,000 when looking at those making under $35,000, a working-class wage somewhere between poverty and median income in Philadelphia, a analysis of five-year IPUMS census data shows.

Hines, 63, has been working on advancing in the work she’s done for more than 20 years. She started studying to get her Child Development Associate (CDA) credential — one of the country’s most widely recognized certificates for working with kids.

“I think if I were retired now, I would miss my kids.”Linda Hines

Having a CDA tells employers — and parents — that you’re familiar with industry standards and regulations. It also helps you get better pay.

Right now, Hines earns $15 per hour. That’s about $31,000 a year. But if she gets certified, she could get an extra $6,000.

Hines is a little nervous about being back in school and taking the exam. She last took classes in high school — and that was 40 years ago.

Hines said she remembers freezing when it came time to take a written test.

“‘Cause sometimes I’m not good like that. I could talk and tell you about things, but I can’t write it down. I get nervous. I was always like that when I was a kid growing up,” she said.

One thing Hines doesn’t have to worry about is the tuition. Like other businesses, daycares in Philadelphia are short on reliable and certified employees. So Hines’ employer got outside help to cover the costs.

All Hines had to pay for was the study book — $100.

Hines loves her work. She spends most of her time with toddlers, teaching them the ABCs, colors and numbers.

Kids she taught 10 or 20 years ago occasionally come by the daycare center to see her and say hello.

“I think if I were retired now, I would miss my kids,” Hines said. “I’d be so bored, I wouldn’t know what to do. So I want to … still stay with work, and working with children, and try to give them a better education by me having a better education.”

These Thriving audio stories feature reporting by Nichole Currie and audio production by Rowhome Productions.

Series: Thriving

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