Despite New Research Showing Early Educator Pay Equity Fund Works, DC’s FY25 Budget Falls $17 Million Short

Mathematica report shows the program’s positive impact on educator retention and sector stability in the first two years
Press Release
For Immediate Release: May 30th, 2024

Contact Info

Tawana Jacobs
Director, Brand and Communications
DC Action
tjacobs@dckids.org
301-325-8687

WASHINGTON (May 28, 2024)—In new research from Mathematica unveiled today–just one day before the DC Council takes its first consequential vote on the fiscal year 2025 budget–the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund has been proven to be effective in stabilizing child care by improving teacher recruitment and retention. 

According to researcher Owen Schochet, “Our ongoing analysis of federal employment data shows that in its second year of operation, Washington, DC’s Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund has increased the size of the city’s child care and early education (CCEE) workforce by nearly 7 percent over our best estimate of what this number would have been without the program. These findings reinforce the program’s potential to support the hiring and retention of CCEE educators in DC. We encourage policymakers and community leaders to consider this evidence as they make decisions that will shape the future of the program.”

Despite the District’s many gains in early education in recent years, it continues to face a shortage of available child care for children from infancy to age two. Most families pay more for child care than what is considered affordable. The Pay Equity Fund was created to help retain and grow the early education workforce, make child care more affordable, and compensate educators for attaining credentials to help them deliver higher-quality child care. If you ask teachers in the program, it’s done just that. However, the District’s preliminary fiscal year 2025 budget falls short of meeting current costs and threatens the program’s future viability. 

Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen, director of early childhood at DC Action, said, A child care workforce shortage has long challenged the District’s ability to provide enough high-quality child care that is affordable and meets families’ needs. As these new data show, the Pay Equity Fund is an opportunity to correct course so that infants and toddlers, their parents, and the District’s economy benefit. To sustain this progress, the DC Council must restore and fully fund the Pay Equity Fund to align, at a minimum, with what the program costs this year: $87 million.”

As things currently stand with the budget, the program will continue to exist thanks to the Council’s efforts to restore it, although educator pay cuts remain on the table. Discussions are underway between the legislative branch and its operating agency, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), to restrain costs by limiting the Pay Equity Fund’s growth. More research will be needed to determine the program’s success in future years. 

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About DC Action

DC Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization making the District of Columbia a place where all kids grow up safe, resilient, powerful and heard. DC Action uses research, data, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. Our collaborative advocacy campaigns bring the power of young people and all residents to raise their voices to create change.