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The Under 3 DC Coalition Secures Large Investments Toward Provider Compensation

Photo by: The Under 3 DC Coalition

The Under 3 DC Coalition has set a mission to expand public investment for early childhood education (ECE). Our allies, DC Action and Educare DC, participate in this coalition, which includes over 50 organizations, parents, and educators. This year, the coalition successfully advocated for a tax increase for individuals with annual incomes above $250,000 to move towards a more equitable funding structure for ECE. Under 3 DC is proud that their efforts led to $75 million that DC will use to begin to publicly fund increases in early childhood educators’ compensation.

The DC FY 22 budget will fund higher compensation for early childhood educators and providers, which will advance pay equity with K-12 teachers for those with comparable degrees and credentials. Under 3 DC believes this win is possible due to the joint learning and partnership with justice-oriented tax, homelessness, and social policy advocacy organizations and coalitions to correct inequities in the DC tax structure and build a more robust early learning system. Building a sustainable workforce by adequate compensation is one of the first steps to create high-quality programs that are accessible to families.

Additionally, the DC Council understood that there is currently no structure in place for the implementation of the budget influx. Therefore, the council voted to create the Early Educator Equitable Compensation Taskforce. The task force is comprised of diverse voices in the sector who will help develop a series of recommendations on how to implement the new changes in compensation and benefits for providers. 

The Under 3 DC Coalition believes that the lessons from these wins are multi-fold:

  1. This work could not have been possible without the support and voice of early learning educators.
  2. Advocates cannot ignore equity issues and must center their work around the people who are often excluded. This will not always be simple, but it’s critical to building truly equitable systems.
  3. Wherever possible, collaborate rather than compete for funds against other groups advocating for funding for important, values-aligned policy, and work together to keep your joint asks simple, clear, and focused.
  4. Generate principles around raising revenue with partners/your coalition, review them together often, and find champions aligned with these principles

This budget increase is a major step towards building a more robust and equitable universal birth-to-five early learning system in DC envisioned by the Birth-to-Three for All DC Act. and DC’s Pre-K Enhancement and Expansion Act.

“This is an exciting opportunity to start compensating the DC teachers who educate and care for infants and toddlers closer to the value of their work. In Chocolate City, which has become unaffordable to many of our Black and brown early educators, it’s exciting that they are, at long last, driving these overdue policy changes.” 

Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen, Director of Early Childhood
DC Action for Children