Today, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced that the District has received a $2.4 million grant from the Early Educator Investment Collaborative (The Collaborative) to support innovations to increase the professional credentials, wages, and benefits of the DC early childhood education workforce. The District was selected for its development and implementation of inventive, comprehensive, and equitable solutions that support early childhood educators to advance as professionals and provide high-quality learning experiences for young children.
“This award further cements the District’s status as the national leader in early childhood education,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Christina Grant. “We are committed to providing early childhood educators the supports they need to do their jobs to the fullest. As part of that, the District has implemented innovative programs to help early childhood educators to attain degrees and credentials, access health insurance coverage and earn equitable pay. We are excited to leverage the support of The Collaborative to build upon our success, strengthen our existing programs and share important lessons learned with other states.”
Increasing access to high-quality early care and education for DC families requires investing in adequate training and supports for early childhood educators, and OSSE will use the three-year grant to accelerate and grow existing programs that support the DC early childhood workforce, including:
- The Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund, a first-in-the-nation program aimed at achieving pay parity between early childhood educators and their K-12 counterparts. Since September 2022, more than $80 million has been distributed to more than 4,000 early childhood educators.
- HealthCare4ChildCare, a program that provides free health insurance through DC Health Link for District residents, and their families, who are employees of OSSE-licensed child development centers and homes. HealthCare4ChildCare also provides free health insurance or lower premiums through DC Health Link for non-District residents employed by OSSE-licensed child development centers and homes choosing to participate in HealthCare4ChildCare. Nearly half of the employers that have enrolled in HealthCare4ChildCare did not offer health insurance previously.
- High-quality, no-cost programs to attain degrees and credentials, including the Child Development Association Training and Preparation Program and the DC Leading Educators towards Advanced Degrees (DC LEAD) program. DC early childhood educators can earn their CDA for free and access to scholarships to earn their associate or bachelor’s degrees through these programs.
“The District’s efforts around early childhood educator workforce education and compensation are groundbreaking,” said Deputy Superintendent of Early Learning Sara Mead. “Early childhood educators play a crucial role in supporting young children’s learning and development, and we are excited to continue our efforts to ensure that all early childhood educators have the needed skills and equitable compensation to best support children and families. This grant will help us continue leading the development of innovative solutions to build the case for public investment in the early childhood workforce in DC and nationally.”
The District is one of just three states selected by the Collaborative to receive grant funding. As a lead grantee, OSSE will build on its comprehensive efforts to transform the birth to 5 early childhood workforce and conduct thorough and evaluative data analysis of key initiatives. OSSE's findings will be shared with other states to adapt and learn from the District’s pioneering experience.
“There is much that other localities and states can learn from the District’s successful initiatives supporting the early childhood educator workforce,” said Dr. Ola J. Friday, director of The Collaborative.
“This grant will help leading innovators like DC to collaborate across agencies and local partners and think bigger and more boldly about how to best support early childhood educators.”