In order to create a robust early childhood education and care (ECEC) system, the ECEC system needs a highly qualified workforce of early educators that is valued and supported through access to higher education, professional development, and, most fundamentally, compensation commensurate with their skills and responsibilities. Nationally, the ECEC system has historically relied on its workforce earning significantly ‘below market average’ wages for their level of education and skill due to systemic underfunding. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an already precarious workforce faced severe job losses due to the increased pay floors for entry-level employees in other sectors. Currently, more than two years after the start of the pandemic, child care employment nationally is still 8.4% below employment levels from what it was in February 2020, pre-pandemic.
More than two years after the start of the pandemic, child care employment nationally is still 8.4% below employment levels from what it was in February 2020
CELFE recognizes the workforce issues that plague ECEC systems and is currently working, with states to address their workforce shortages. One financing tool employers use in many other industries to help stabilize the workforce is a salary scale. A salary scale provides the workforce a transparent tool to have pre-established credentials and a base wage for both the employer and provider. A salary scale also provides employers with a helpful budget planning tool while also ensuring objective criteria are aligned with the given job categories. Overall, a salary scale can help retain and attract employees. iv
This report details why states should develop and use a salary scale. The report also offers a process to use to develop a salary scale and a matrix of key decision points stakeholders will have to address before and during the creation of a salary scale.
It is important to note while a salary scale only addresses wages, CELFE recognizes pay alone does not meet full compensation parity with K-12 educational educators, and moving forward, plans to examine benefits more thoroughly. CELFE also firmly recognizes a salary scale is only one part of a state’s ECEC financing model and would need to fit into a larger strategic plan for any state’s visioning and eventual whole-system transformation.Download