Seattle, WA – Washington state is in the middle of a vehement dialogue about the need to increase public school teachers’ wages. The debate centers on how we recognize the importance of the teaching profession.
This debate needs to be resolved and extended to the people who care for young children – child care teachers. Each year, May 1st is designated national Worthy Wage Day – a day to build community awareness and highlight the importance of quality care for children and its relationship to worthy wages for child care work. Several child care centers in King County will close on Friday, April 30th in recognition of Worthy Wage Day in order for teachers and family providers to train and strategize about how to increase child care workers’ wages.
The most essential component for quality child care is the quality of the caregiver. However, child care workers are poorly paid, turnover is rampant (averaging 40%), and career ladders are nonexistent. Early childhood education is undervalued and underpaid. Child Care Works for Washington (a coalition of child care advocates), in partnership with the Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI), is advocating for development of a statewide child care career and wage ladder in order to build a ladder to the middle class for early childhood education teachers, and in turn to raise the quality of care for children.
EOI designed the pilot career and wage ladder in concert with the Childcare Union Project and DSHS’s Office of Child Care Policy last summer. Pay increments for early childhood education teachers would be based on experience, responsibility and education. Establishment of the career ladder is a top priority for child care advocates.