US sends important signal on prioritising ECEC sector wages
The Sector > Jobs News > US sends important signal on prioritising ECEC sector wages

US sends important signal on prioritising ECEC sector wages

by Freya Lucas

February 09, 2023

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) at UC Berkeley has been selected to help lead a major new federal project that will explore how to strengthen the US childcare (sic.) system by improving conditions for its workforce.


In commentary which mirrors advocacy efforts in the Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) context, January Contreras, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Administration for Children and Families has said that “we cannot continue to expect early educators to remain in these critical roles only to earn poverty wages.”


CSCCE has been a prominent voice in warning that poverty-level wages and chronic race and gender inequities are putting the US child care system in jeopardy, with a direct impact on children, working families and the wider economy.


The new National Early Care and Education Workforce Center, with a $30 million budget over five years from the HHS, has the potential to research the challenges and prescribe solutions that could have a transformative impact on ECEC in the US, which could also have global implications.


“CSCCE is thrilled that the federal government is investing in improving conditions for the early care and education workforce,” said CSCCE Executive Director Lea Austin.  “Our involvement with the National Early Care and Education Workforce Center will complement our ongoing research and policy efforts towards securing racial, gender and economic justice for the workforce.”   


The ECEC workforce in the US, as in Australia and the rest of the world, plays an integral role in the health and development of children while providing an essential service to working families and the economy, yet the educators’ knowledge, skills and well-being are often undervalued. 


Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that investments are necessary to strengthen the economy and ensure the stability of early care and education.


CCSCE’s role in the project is being led by Elena Montoya, a senior research and policy associate. Read more about CSCEE’s work as a core partner in the National Early Care and Education Workforce Center.

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