Brief Toward Pay Equity: A Case Study of Washington DC’s Wage Boost for Early Childhood Educators
Erica Greenberg, Victoria Nelson, Justin B. Doromal, Heather Sandstrom, Soumita Bose, Eleanor Lauderback
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This brief presents findings from interviews—with key informants, including DC early childhood education leaders, advocates, and implementation partners; parents and legal guardians of young children enrolled in licensed DC child care facilities; and child care center directors and home and expanded home providers—on the nation’s first early childhood educator wage supplement with dedicated public funding.


The Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund is part of the District’s long history of investment in early care and education. The fund’s goals include addressing gender discrimination and systemic racism in the field, improving staff recruitment and retention, and improving the quality of care provided in the District. Implementation of the Pay Equity Fund was largely successful because of strong partnerships to swiftly distribute funds to eligible educators, a strong communication and outreach plan, and an up-to-date census of all early educators in the District to verify eligibility. Implementation was challenging in keeping a consistent communication strategy across partner organizations, communicating about whether and how the payments would be taxed, and raising issues of fairness and equity in including early childhood educators but not center directors or other program staff. The implementation of the Pay Equity Fund was largely successful, and the case study offers important information for other jurisdictions considering implementing wage supplements for early childhood educators.

Research Areas Workforce Children and youth Greater DC
Tags Child care Child care and workers Early childhood education Job markets and labor force Job quality and workplace standards Structural racism
Policy Centers Center on Education Data and Policy Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population
Research Methods Qualitative data analysis Data collection Data analysis
States District of Columbia
Cities Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
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