State Compensation Initiatives for Early Childhood Educators
There are a variety of methods states have been utilizing in an effort to address compensation issues for early childhood educators. These methods include:
An Apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training and related college-level instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation. Currently, the U.S. Department of Labor recognizes the field of early care and education and offers training and educational opportunities for center-based child care workers resulting in a higher compensation.
Only a small percentage of early care and education teachers and providers receive fully-paid health care benefits from their employers. As a result, health insurance initiatives are increasingly being recognized as strategies to boost the compensation of a broad sector of teachers and providers.
Mentoring Programs have been developed to create a new step on the child care career ladder, offering experienced early care and education professionals an opportunity to share their skills with others, grow in the profession, and receive improved compensation. Mentoring also offers novice caregivers a practical and supportive way to learn and to overcome the many hurdles of the critical first years on the job. For example, California has such a mentor program in place for professionals in the field. The California Early Childhood Mentor Program, co-founded by the Center for the Child Care Workforce, is operating in 70 community colleges and offers an average annual stipend of $1,264 for each mentor.
Public/Private Partnerships encourage local businesses to contribute to early care and education programs that are committed to improving compensation. Early care and education programs are paired with businesses that make direct contributions of materials, funds and expertise which, in turn, support the programs' efforts to increase staff wages.
Scholarship Programs award funds to early care and education workers to cover the costs of higher education or training. One such program, the T.E.A.C.H. TM Early Childhood Project, first instituted as a statewide initiative in North Carolina, provides educational scholarship opportunities for people working in regulated child care centers and homes. Once T.E.A.C.H. participants have reached their educational goals, they receive either a salary increase of three to five percent or a bonus for each contract period in which they participate in the program. T.E.A.C.H. is currently being implemented 22 states: Alabama , Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Unionization is another strategy to address the issues of low pay and poor working conditions. With a union contract, early care and education employees can have a greater voice in defining their working conditions, clarifying their rights and responsibilities (as well as those of the employer), and resolving problems or grievances. Currently, less than five percent of the early care and education workforce nationwide is unionized.
Wage Incentives, also referred to as Wage/Compensation Supplements or Retention Grants, are designed to reward early care and education teachers and providers based on their level of education and years of tenure. In addition to providing opportunities for early care and education teachers and providers to improve their education, these types of programs particularly target salary increases to experienced, well-trained caregivers whose salaries do not reflect their level of educational attainment.
The following states currently have such programs: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin.
Tiered Reimbursement Rates
Tiered Reimbursement Rates have been targeted by several states as a way to increase compensation for providers of subsidized child care services. Low rates depress a child care program's revenue sources, and in turn deplete its available resources to compensate teachers and providers. Reimbursement plans offer economic incentives to providers who enroll low-income children.
Some states have linked higher reimbursement rates to quality standards such as accreditation through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). It must be noted, however, that these higher rates do not necessarily translate into higher wages, since differential rates are not necessarily targeted to wage increases.
The following states offer differential reimbursement rates based on higher standards of quality: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
For more detailed information about a variety of workforce compensation initiatives, see:
Compensation Initiatives For the Early Care and Education Workforce
Supporting a Skilled and Stable Workforce: Compensation and Retention Initiatives
Financing Incentives in QRS