Early Childhood Workforce

Child Care Services Association (CCSA) has long recognized that an essential element of high-quality Early Childhood Education is a strong, educated workforce that nurtures and teaches young children. CCSA periodically releases white papers and hosts webinars focusing on the early childhood educator workforce with state and national partners.

American Rescue Plan Funding: Child Care Workforce Investments

In March 2021, Congress passed legislation that included nearly $40 billion to support both child care providers and the families who depend on child care so that they can work or return to the workforce. Out of these funds, $23.9 billion was allocated to states to be used for stabilization grants to support the child care market. The remaining funds were allocated to states to more broadly address child care needs (e.g., supporting families, addressing child care supply gaps, improving the quality of child care, etc.). 

ARP Stabilization Grant Review. Because the operation of any child care program (either in a center or a home) relies on staffing, Child Care Services Association and its National Center, working with the Early Learning Policy Group, reviewed state initiatives based on publicly available information to better understand specific investments in the child care workforce. A tight labor market across the country has made it difficult to recruit and retain staff, particularly given the low wages paid to those individuals working in the child care field. As a result, the ARP stabilization grants include investing in the child care workforce as the first in a list of allowable uses of funding. 

This review focused on state decisions to require the use of stabilization grants to invest in child care workforce compensation or the ability for programs to opt-in to receive supplemental payments to invest in child care workforce compensation. There are many other great resources available to see how states have spent these funds looking at multiple areas. Our focus is specifically on funds for the workforce.

A Look at Salary/Wage Scales for the Early Childhood Educator Workforce

Child Care Services Association (CCSA) and its T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood ® National Center has long recognized that an essential element of high-quality Early Care and Education (ECE) is a strong, educated workforce that nurtures and teaches young children. This workforce needs compensation levels that support both early childhood educators and their families, and enable the educators to remain in the field. At a time when national, state and local leaders are recognizing the need to radically change child care, CCSA and its National Center are excited that compensation is understood as vital to any plans being made.

To assist states and localities, we are pleased to share the following white paper: A Look at Salary/Wage Scales for the Early Childhood Educator Workforce in November 2021. The white paper examines salary (wage) scales – what they are and what to consider when planning one. Specific state examples are offered, as well as a general discussion of the elements and characteristics of a salary schedule. Funding and instituting a well-designed salary or wage scale, one that provides transparent and equitable wage lattices and make ECE a competitive career once again, is one key strategy for rebuilding the ECE system. We hope this is helpful in building or improving your state’s early childhood workforce salary scale.

Child Care Services Association Releases a NC Workforce Registry Report

In January 2021, with the support of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Child Care Services Association (CCSA) launched the process of determining interest in, understanding of and buy-in for a North Carolina Early Childhood/School Age (EC/SA) Workforce Registry. Because the Early Childhood workforce is a major focus of CCSA’s work through its T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®, Child Care WAGE$® and Infant Toddler AWARD$® Plus programs, and its multiple statewide and regional workforce data analyses as well as its strong training and technical assistance efforts, CCSA understood it was time to call attention to the need for a registry. At that time, North Carolina was one of only nine states without a workforce registry and now at the close of 2021, is only one of seven states without a registry.

A statewide workforce registry would, among other things, serve as a resource for the EC/SA workforce, as well as policymakers and advocates who could study the data to better understand needs and develop policies that strengthen the early childhood system. Funding from the Foundation enabled CCSA to contract with the Public Consulting Group (PCG) to gather critical information and insights from key stakeholder groups across the state. Stakeholder groups included funders, early childhood state leadership, early childhood directors and educators, technical assistance providers and more.

Following completion of focus groups, individual interviews and surveys of the ECE workforce and stakeholders, CCSA is now releasing the final report of PCG’s work – the North Carolina Early Childhood/School Age Workforce Registry: Final Report and Recommendations. The report synthesizes the process and methodology used to gather data about the perceived value of and interest in a workforce registry. The report concludes with five recommendations. The report’s key finding is that there is overwhelming support from educators, administrators and stakeholders alike for implementing a EC/SA workforce registry in NC. As one program administrator said: “A registry in which administrators could access employee information such as educational qualifications and continuing education hours would be very helpful.”

Moving forward, funding from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation will support future communications planning. CCSA looks forward to partnering with the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education, along with other funders, stakeholders and the workforce to move a registry forward in the state.

For further information about the report, please contact Marsha Basloe at mbasloe@childcareservices.org.

North Carolina Early Childhood Compensation Collaborative Model Salary Scale for Early Education Teachers

Children’s earliest experiences are built into their bodies—shaping the brain’s architecture and creating the foundation for future learning. The interactions they have with their early childhood teachers play an essential role in determining how their brains are wired. To build strong brains and support children’s optimal development, early childhood teachers need specialized knowledge and skills.

Compensation is an integral component of attracting and retaining the high-quality early learning workforce needed to prepare children for success. A salary scale tied to education can serve as a critical tool to professionalize the early childhood teaching workforce.

This scale was developed in consultation and collaboration with the following agencies: Child Care Services Association; NC CCR&R Council; NC Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Child Development and Early Education; MomsRising; NC Institute for Child Development Professionals; Smart Start; and North Carolina Early Education Coalition.