Compensation Issues / Initiatives


  • Fact Sheets


did_you_know_that_thumbnail_11_13_17  compensationqa

  • Virtual Summit Workshops

2021 Moving the Needle of Early Childhood Workforce Issues Virtual Summit (May 2021) 

2020 Moving the Needle on Early Childhood Workforce Compensation Virtual Summit (April 2020)

  • Videos and Webinars

Early Childhood Workforce Parity in Two U.S. Cities (May 13, 2020) PDF of Webinar Slides

Engaging Local and State Workforce Development Boards (April 30, 2020)

The Why, What and How of Salary Schedules for the Early Childhood Educator Workforce (Feb 27, 2020) PDF of webinar slides 

Moving the Needle on Workforce Advocacy: How we can encourage investment at the federal level (July 15, 2019) PDF of webinar slides

Proactive Promotion of Early Childhood Compensation Parity (Mar 11, 2019) PDF of webinar slides

Communications and Messaging for a Highly Qualified and Fairly Compensated Workforce (Feb 26, 2019) PDF of webinar slides

Teams That Move the Needle (Feb 1, 2019)

Compensation Strategies 101 T.EA.C.H. National Center (October 2018) PDF of webinar slides

Electoral Advocacy for the Early Childhood Workforce T.E.A.C.H. National center (Mar 2018)

Strategies in Pursuit of Pre-K Teacher Compensation Parity: Lessons from Seven States and Cities T.E.A.C.H. National center (Feb 2018) PDF of webinar slides

Grounding Early Childhood Workforce Advocacy in Communications Science
T.E.A.C.H. National center (Nov 2017) PDF of webinar slides

Education, Compensation and Stability of the Early Childhood Workforce T.E.A.C.H. National Center (Sept 2017) PDF of webinar slides

Why Businesses Should Invest in Early Childhood Education T.E.A.C.H. National Center (Aug 2017) PDF of webinar slides

ECE Career Pathways-The Challenge of Compensation  T.EA.C.H. National Center (Feb 2017)

Why are early childhood educators struggling to make ends meet?  PBS NewsHour (Aug 2016)

Child Care WAGE$® 101 Child Care Services Association (Nov 2014)


Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education

ECE Compensation: Issues and Initiatives


Much has been written about the woefully low compensation of early childhood teachers, those working in both center and home-based settings. National and state workforce studies report hourly wages of less than $11, with few benefits such as fully funded health insurance or retirement. These low wages are often seen as the reason for high turnover and workforce instability.

A number of states are implementing strategies to try to partially address this issue. Such strategies include direct wage supplements tied to education, professional development scholarships with compensation incentives, tax credits for early childhood teachers, and wage parity requirements built in to state-funded pre-k standards or within the state’s Quality Rating Improvement System. Some states and cities are also targeting efforts to increase minimum wage as a way to address the problem. Each of these strategies has both advantages and disadvantages...

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The challenge that states face is the competition between increasing access for children in need of early care and education and building high-quality programs for young children, where teachers are well educated and compensated. Higher payment rates for both child care assistance and for Pre-K are often seen as the answer. Yet without a mandate for dollars to specifically go to teacher compensation, in a diverse delivery system, increased rates do not always mean better salaries.

The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center has been working on developing strategies to address early childhood education, compensation and workforce stability for many years. Its two largest national efforts, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® scholarships and Child Care WAGE$® supplements each raise compensation about 8% a year for participants. Both initiatives are systemic strategies that serve as policy drivers at the state and local levels resulting in increased funding for early childhood workforce needs, increased awareness of workforce needs and more responsive workforce support and education systems. While these efforts have not solved the compensation conundrum, they have given teachers a real career pathway that allows them to increase both their education and compensation, while staying in the field. 

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Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education

In February 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released their highly anticipated report detailing 10 recommendations on how to finance quality early care and education (ECE) so that it is accessible and affordable to all families and includes a well-qualified and adequately supported workforce.

The committee concludes that “transforming the financing structure for ECE to meet the needs of all children and families will require greater coordination among financing mechanisms as well as signification mobilization of financing and other resources across the public and private sectors.” – Consensus Study Report Highlights, February 2018

Of particular interest related to a well-qualified and adequately supported workforce is the first principle in the committee’s Principles of High Quality Early Care and Education, which states, “High-quality early care and education requires a diverse, competent, effective, well-compensated, and professionally supported workforce across the various roles of ECE professionals.” In addition, the committee addresses compensation in the following recommendation in An Effective Financing Structure.

Recommendation 7: Because compensation for the early care and education (ECE) workforce is not currently commensurate with desired qualifications, the ECE workforce should be provided with financial assistance to increase practitioners’ knowledge and competencies and to achieve required qualifications through higher-education programs, credentialing programs, and other forms of professional learning. The incumbent ECE workforce should bear no cost for increasing practitioners’ knowledge base, competencies, and qualifications, and the entering workforce should be assisted to limit costs to a reasonable proportion of postgraduate earnings, with a goal of maintaining and further promoting diversity in the pipeline of ECE professionals.

  • 7a. Existing grant-based resources should be leveraged, and states and localities, along with colleges and universities, should work together to provide additional resources and supports to the incumbent workforce as practitioners further their qualifications as professionals in the ECE field. 

  • 7b. States and the federal government should provide financial and other appropriate supports to limit to a reasonable proportion of expected postgraduate earnings any tuition and fee expenses that are incurred by prospective ECE professionals and are not covered by existing financial aid programs.

Finally, the report reflects back to Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, in its discussion of staff qualifications and compensation, stating, “Drawing on the Transforming report, which asserts that teaching children younger than age 5 is as complex as teaching children of ages 5 to 8 and that ECE educators need an equivalent level of preparation, support, and reward as educators of older children, some scholars propose that compensation levels for ECE educators should be on par with that of kindergarten to 3rd grade (K–3) educators and should be applied to ECE educators, regardless of the ages of children or the type of setting in which they work (see, e.g., Whitebook and McLean, 2017b).6 Thus, they call for compensation parity with K–3 educators among educators in public prekindergarten, Head Start, and other center-based ECE settings.7”



Moving the Needle on ECE
Workforce Compensation
State Accomplishment Briefs






Moving the Needle on ECE
Workforce Compensation
Cohort I Final Report


Cohort I Addendum


Cohort II Final Report


Cohort III Final Report



Moving the Needle on Compensation Initiative

In January 2017, the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center (Center), with grant funding from the Alliance for Early Success and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, announced the award of grants to eight (8) state teams (FL, IN, IA, MI, NE, NC, TX and WI) to raise the awareness of early childhood workforce compensation issues and create new or significantly expand create new or significantly expand policy, strategy development and implementation, and funding to improve the compensation of the early education teaching workforce within participating states. In September 2018, following on the heels of these states, three new states (MN, OH, and RI) were invited to participate in a second cohort, with Texas and Michigan invited back from the first cohort, to address, once again, improving compensation of the early education teaching workforce via a state team approach. In September 2019 as TX and MI finished two years on the project, two additional states - NJ and AL - joined the continuing states, MN, OH, and RI on the project.  

To move the needle on compensation in their states, teams are required to...

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  • Assembled teams comprised of stakeholders who are committed to addressing the education, compensation and retention issues facing the early education workforce in their states;
  • Created strategic action plans including goals, measures of achievement, strategies and action steps; and
  • Work toward implementing their goals.

To support states in this initiative, the Center provides technical support and resources to assist teams including webinars, newsletters, links to up to date research, team leader meetings, and national Summits that bring all state teams together for two days of learning, sharing information and moving forward with their action plans.

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Initiative Press Release

Compensation Presentations

What We Talk About When We Talk About Compensation  Lauren Hogan, National Association for the Education of Young Children (Symposium, April 2018)

Reconceptualizing Leadership and Advocacy in ECE: Placing Teacher's Voices at the Center of Workforce Reforms  Lauren Hogan, National Association for the Education of Young Children (Summit, April 2018)

Policy and Funding Leavers in Support of Compensation: What Policies Do We Need and Where Will The Funding Come From? Tool Anne Mitchell,Early Childhood Policy Research & Alliance for Early Childhood Finance and Adele Robinson, University of Maryland (Summit, April 2018)

Compensation Strategies in the States: Evidence from the Early Childhood Workforce Index  Caitlin McLean, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, UC Berkeley (Summit, April 2017)

Looking at the Early Childhood Workforce: What Do We Know?  Elaine Weiss, Broader Bolder Approach to Education, Economic Policy Institute (Summit, April 2017)

Compensation...Making the Case to Funders  Albert Wat, Alliance for Early Success (Summit, April 2017)

Financing Early Childhood Workforce Strategies-Finding the Money  Anne Mitchell, Early Childhood Policy Research & Alliance for Early Childhood Finance (Summit, April 2017)

Building a Public Awareness Campaign on ECE Workforce Compensation  Amy O'Leary, Strategies for Children (Summit, April 2017)