State Watch

DC Council votes to send $10,000 checks to day care workers

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Thousands of day care workers in Washington, D.C., will receive checks for at least $10,000 following a vote by the city council.

The D.C. City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to “create an early educator pay parity program that will provide direct payments to employees of early childhood development providers” in fiscal year 2022, which runs until September, according to the legislation

The payments will be made using revenue from a tax increase on wealthy households in D.C. that was passed by the city council last year, The Washington Post reported. City council members voted when they approved the tax increase to set aside approximately $53 million of the revenue in the first year to raise pay for the city’s day care workforce, which includes more than 3,000 workers, according to a task force established by the council.

City councilmember Janeese Lewis George, who represents D.C.’s 4th Ward, said “child care is the backbone of our economy” and that temporary payments were recognizing the important role of child care workers.

“The predominantly Black and Brown women who do this work have been underpaid for decades despite being asked to educate our children during their most foundational years. Today we start paying them much closer to what they deserve,” she tweeted on Tuesday.

A survey released in September from the National Association for the Early Education of Young Children found that 84 percent of child care centers in D.C. were experiencing staffing shortages, with 73 percent of respondents identifying low wages as the main recruitment challenge.

The amount of money awarded to eligible educators in D.C.’s relief package depends on their role, with assistant teachers to receive payments of $10,000 and head teachers $14,000, based on a recommendation last month from the city’s newly appointed Early Childhood Educator Equitable Compensation Task Force.

“These supplemental payments are intended as: 1) a recognition of the significant historic financial undervaluing of early educators’ work, and 2) a preview of the District’s commitment to the sustained salary increase planned through the long-term mechanism,” the task force said in its January report.

The task force is expected to outline a permanent program to use the tax increase to raise pay for child care workers beyond fiscal year 2022 in an April follow-up report.

Tags childcare workers D.C. D.C. city council Early Childhood Educator Equitable Compensation Task Force Janeese Lewis Washington Washington D.C.

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