Compensation Reform

“Historically, our society has devalued “care” and “house work” as “women’s work” and in service of those more privileged, as work done by servants, maids, and earlier in our history, enslaved Black women. In short, the system we have built remains tied to the roots of systemic racism and sexism. And so, instead of allocating adequate public funding for child care and providing it as a public good to all families, we have decided to run this system on the backs of families and educators, especially economically vulnerable women and women of color.”

Alliance for Early Success, Build Stronger: A Childcare Policy Roadmap for Transforming Our Nation’s Child Care System, October 2020.

Early childhood educators do vitally important work building the brains of our future workforce and yet they earn very little money for this critical work.  Low compensation prevents many promising educators from entering and/or staying in the field, forces teachers to struggle to meet their own family’s needs, makes it difficult to deliver on the promises of return on investment of high-quality early care and education and is fundamentally unfair to the hard-working educators, most of whom are women.  Minnesota has had groups of advocates and policy-makers delving into this issue over the years.  In 2016, a group formed with funding from the National Governor’s Association made recommendations about options for improving compensation. You can read the report here.

Most recently, a subcommittee of Transforming  Minnesota’s Early Childhood Workforce, with support from the TEACH Early Childhood National Center, has come up with recommendations to improve compensation in Minnesota. This team, known as the Moving the Needle on Compensation Team, met for two years and received technical assistance from the TEACH Early Childhood National Center. The team’s vision and recommendations are as follows:

VISION:  Early childhood compensation should include:

  • Fair and equitable wages/earnings that allow the early childhood educator to support herself and her family;
  • Reasonable benefits including health insurance and paid time off; and
  • Work standards that acknowledge the needs of the profession including planning time as well as professional development opportunities, resources and support.

Compensation should not be dependent on the age of the children served nor the setting of the care but rather linked to credentials and expertise in line with the Power to the Profession designations and in parity with K-12 educators with similar credentials and years of experience.


  1. Adopt and Implement the Power to the Profession framework and include salary scales for the different classifications of educators.

2.  Ensure adequate financing for early care and education in Minnesota. (See separate recommendations from the Minnesota’s Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education team.)

3.  Support Minnesota early childhood professionals in earning early childhood credits and degrees.

4.  Engage and educate the public regarding the importance of a qualified, diverse, supported and equitably compensated workforce.

Articles we Published Related to Compensation:

We published a two-article series on the Department of Employment and Economic Security (DEED) webpage. The first article, Early Care and Education: Profile of an Industry in Crisis, provides the broader economic context. The second article proposes a salary scale that aligns with the educator designations in Power to the Profession: Minnesota Early Care and Education Wage Scale.

Resources to Learn More about Compensation Issues:

TEACH Early Childhood National Center has a vast library of materials including fact sheets, webinars, videos and reports on compensation.

Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least? A 2018 New York Times Magazine article about the hard work of being a preschool teacher, the skills and knowledge that they need to have to nurture and educate young children and the impossible situations that teachers are faced with as they struggle to pay their bills.

Equitable Compensation for the Child Care Workforce: Within Reach and Worth the Investment. Bank Street College of Education released this new report in October of 2020.

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, at the University of California at Berkeley, is the preeminent research institution in the United States focused on the early childhood workforce. They have been researching, analyzing and advocating for compensation reform for decades and also have a web page with excellent resources.

Child Care Aware of America, together with the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, made a short video that explains why child care costs so much but educators earn so little:

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