Early Educator Compensation – CSCCE’s Key Findings & Recommendations For Policymakers

See the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment’s findings for wages and benefits of educators at non-public school sites, and their recommendations—some of which have been included as part of DEC’s Compensation Initiative.

DEC Compensation Initiative

In October 2022, educators in programs participating in the Department of Early Childhood’s (DEC’s) Early Learning San Francisco (ELS) will receive wage increases or CARES 3.0 stipends from funds secured in 2018 through the passage of Proposition C. This is an important moment after a long wait due to the lawsuit by Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association which delayed the release of these important funds.

As we’re on the precipice of seeing the first significant wave of Prop C funds reach San Francisco early care educators, it is important to keep a pulse on how the local funds impact our city and county’s early care and education workforce, and take note of how other ECE educators are faring outside San Francisco’s ELS program and throughout California, to inform and shape our ongoing efforts to make early care and education a well-resourced profession that allows teachers quality of life and the ability to provide the best possible care and education.


The following are highlights extracted from CSCCE’s Findings & Recommendations:

Educator Compensation in California Regions & Statewide


In August 2022, CSCCE released the first comprehensive data on California early educator compensation in 15 years. Early educators perform challenging, complex work, yet despite this and their years of experience, training, and education, this study documents the persistently low wages paid to them.

This report further identifies disparities by program setting and funding, and finds that for some, wages actually declined between 2005 and 2020. The low wages reflect a failure of state policy to address compensation over the 15 years since our last compensation study.

Recommendations for Policymakers


1. Ensure that all state policies are made in consultation with early educators.

  • Establish practices that center the experiences, intellect, and leadership of early educators.

2. Articulate compensation standards for all educators across ECE program settings.

  • Establish a wage floor so that, at a minimum, no one working in a child care classroom or family child care home earns less than the regionally assessed living wage and articulate minimum benefit standards (health insurance, paid leave, retirement).
  • Compensation standards for center- and home-based educators should scale up from the floor to account for job role, experience, and education levels, up to parity with similarly qualified TK and elementary school teachers—and compensation should be provided for non-contact hours (i.e., paid preparation/planning time).

3. Develop a methodology to identify the true cost of providing high-quality ECE programs in both center- and home-based settings that includes established compensation standards.

  • Use the true cost to set appropriate levels of funding for a publicly funded ECE system, rather than basing funding on market rates.
  • Include adjustments for cost of living in the methodology.

4. Establish requirements and dedicate sufficient public funding for all programs to meet wage and benefit standards. Require and monitor adherence to those standards as a condition of funding.


5. Prioritize stable contract-based funding arrangements for home-based providers and centers.

  • Contracts should guarantee a base funding amount—accounting for a specific number of publicly funded spots, rather than using volatile enrollment or attendance levels.
  • Contracts should specify the portion of funds to be used for compensation.

6. Fund and make publicly available current and longitudinal research on the ECE system and workforce, including compensation.

  • Include a plan to require and fund full participation in state workforce data systems for all members of the ECE workforce employed in school-, center-, and home-based child care settings.
  • Examine data to identify and remedy wage gaps and pay inequities.
  • Report the utilization and impact of funding for compensation and other investments to inform future policies and resource allocation.

Read more about the key findings and and CSCCE’s recommendations for policymakers.