20+ DC Child Care Facilities Unite To Pressure DC Council To Restore Pay Equity Fund

Under 3 DC and SPACEs in Action help business owners, early educators, and parents advocate, protest, and testify on a day of action
Press Release
For Immediate Release: May 3rd, 2024

Contact Info

Tawana Jacobs
Director, Brand and Communications
DC Action
tjacobs@dckids.org
301-325-8687
Domonique James
Founder
Politics with Purpose
domonque@politicswithpurpose.com
720-401-2210

WASHINGTON (May 3, 2024)—In a move not ever taken, more than 20 District of Columbia child care facilities are taking action to protest Mayor Bowser’s proposed elimination of the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund. In addition to participating in today’s early morning rally on the final day of public hearings for the District of Columbia 2025 budget and testifying today before the DC Council, two dozen facilities are either closed for the day, opening late to allow staff to attend the rally, closing early, or setting aside the time to contact councilmembers to send a clear message: “Restore full funding to the Pay Equity Fund and reverse other child care cuts!”

Although Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and a now majority of councilmembers are expressing their support for a complete restoration of funding for pay equity, questions remain about the certainty of that commitment given other District budget pressures. Early educators believe the cuts to the Pay Equity Fund are an affront to their personhood, livelihoods, and professionalism. As Berna Artis, president of the DC Association for the Education of Young Children (DCAEYC), said, “I helped convince early childhood programs to participate in the rally to save the Pay Equity Fund and oppose cuts to early childhood education in the Mayor’s proposed budget because I believe in the importance of fair pay for educators and the long-term economic impact it has on educators, children, families and early childhood programs as businesses. By standing together, in solidarity, we own our profession, demand equity, and we can ensure that quality early childhood education remains accessible and sustainable for all.”

The early learning community has been especially active this budget season because Mayor Bowser’s budget proposal would turn back the economic clock on more than 4,000 educators who have advanced their education to receive the increased compensation and benefits. A vociferous Early Education Lobby Day to visit DC Council Offices, sending more than 10,000 emails, phone calls and postcards sent to councilmembers, and an April rally with more than 350 attendees has illustrated the importance of child care to DC’s overall economy.  

Kimberly Perry, executive director of DC Action and co-chair of Under 3 DC, said, “As focused as the Mayor and DC Council are on building the District’s economy, they cannot downplay how critical early educators are to helping us achieve our city’s overall economic goals. Affordable, high-quality child care is essential to attracting and retaining businesses and working families. Undercutting this goal by rescinding a compensation increase two years after the fact and expecting a sector’s workforce to willingly accept the decision to return to almost-poverty wages without a fight is not an option.” 

Recent research supports the assertion that DC’s economy will break without complete restoration of the Pay Equity Fund. Parents miss work, and businesses and taxpayers lose money when child care is hard to find and unaffordable. And an already stark shortage of available child care slots for infants and toddlers will only worsen if early educators flee the sector for higher-paying jobs. 

LaDon Love, executive director of SPACEs in Action, said it best, “Child care centers are giving the Mayor and DC Council a taste of the crisis that awaits if they do not protect funding for child care in the budget. Parents, teachers, and child care providers are sick of the lip service and politicians making it harder for families to find the care they need, send their children to school, and go to work and make a living. We will be heard. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of Black, brown, and low-income families who hold this city together.” 

###

Under 3 DC

Under 3 DC harnesses the voices and power of the District’s parents with young children, early educators, and community-based organizations to shine a spotlight on the need for more public investments in early education and health programs for infants and toddlers. Together, we can set the District of Columbia on a path to creating and sustaining a high-quality, equitable early childhood system.