D.C. lawmakers have passed a bill to raise the wages of those who care for the District’s youngest residents.
The D.C. Council unanimously voted Tuesday to pass the Early Childhood Educator Equitable Compensation Task Force Temporary Amendment Act. Introduced by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, it will gradually increase the salaries of early childhood educators, starting with a one-time payment of up to $14,000 per worker.
A task force will determine how to disburse nearly $54 million generated by a new tax on the District’s wealthiest residents.
“I think this is huge. This is why we asked our residents to help chip in just a little bit more last summer,” council member Charles Allen said.
Allen is proud that early child care workers will now make more than just above minimum wage.
“I think no other jurisdiction in the country is doing what we are doing — paying our early educators good, livable wages. And I know our pay equity task work has been hard at work the past three months shaping groundbreaking payment plans,” council member Janeese Lewis George said.
Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen, director of the Under 3 DC Coalition and a member of the task force, called the bill’s passage “game-changing progress,” but noted that it’s only the first part of a longer-term plan to permanently increase the wages of early educators.
“It is now up to the Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) to ensure educators receive their supplemental pay by the end of this fiscal budget year — September 31,” Anbar-Shaheen said.
The bill authorizes the funds to be disbursed quickly, but it will be up to the OSSE to determine when that will be, a spokesperson for Mendelson’s office said.
“It’s going to be directly distributed to educators and I want to give a shout out to OSSE, who has actually stepped up in terms of their commitment here to distribute $53.9 million in the next year as direct supplemental payments to educators separate from their existing salaries,” council member Christina Henderson said.
In 2021, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser put funding toward keeping child care centers open, acknowledging that they are the “backbone” of the economy.