Since its inception in 1992, Worthy Wage Day has been a time to raise public awareness of the low wages earned by early childhood educators and the negative effects it has on young children.
WECA has always been involved in this grass-roots campaign-advocating on behalf of the child care workforce. Recently, WECA released Starting Early, Starting Now: Investing in Teachers to Grow Child Care Quality. This report addresses the need for fundamental changes in how child care is financed in Wisconsin.
We sent this report to all members of the Wisconsin State Legislature. WECA staff met with members of the Joint Finance Committee to discuss the value of investing in early childhood education and the necessity for a worthy wage for this workforce.
Soon, WECA along with the Center on Wisconsin Strategy will conduct an early childhood workforce study. It will examine providers’ educational levels, experience, job satisfaction, turnover, retention, and compensation. It will also study why child care providers leave this field and where they go.
Worthy Wage Day depends on child care providers sharing what the impact of earning a low wage has on themselves individually, their families, and the children they care for. Here then, are perspectives from the field.
“I have been working in the child care field for 14 years and while I have a college degree, I make significantly less than almost all of my peers with a degree. It can be very depressing to know that I work in a field that I love and know is incredibly important, but I make less than someone handling bags at the airport. I handle something way more important every day. We need to have those in power, those who make decisions about how money is allocated, to recognize the importance of high quality child care and decent compensation.”
-Andrea Tallacksen, infant/toddler teacher at Woods Hollow Children’s Center.
“I was fortunate to have a husband with a good paying job, or else I wouldn’t have been able to work as a child care teacher and raise our two daughters. I would like to believe that things have changed, but I still hear the same kind of comments from the general public. These comments show a lack of recognition for the importance of the work of early childhood teachers as well as lack of appreciation for the difficulty of the work. We need to strengthen and reinvigorate our efforts to advocate for the child care workforce.”
-Joan Klinkner, former child care teacher, instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.
“I have always served low-income families who are eligible for Wisconsin Shares. Yet, my work situation has changed in the last five years. I had to downsize my business and make changes in my life due to the limited income I was able to earn as a family child care provider. I will not give up the fight for what has become my passion. And I have been praying. If we providers today had a mind set to change things like in the past we could work together for change.”
-Annette Wilburn, licensed family child care provider in Milwaukee.
Speak Out Now!
There are many opportunities for Wisconsin child care providers to raise awareness on Worthy Wage Day. Social media can be a prime avenue to use. Here are a few suggestions on what you can do today to help raise awareness of worthy wages for worthy work:
1. Become a Forward for Kids Advocate. Receive email updates on additional advocating opportunities and become a voice for early childhood education.
2. Participate in the #WorthyWages Twitter Storm-Friday, May 1st Noon-1:00 pm.
3. Not on Twitter? Extend the storm on Facebook. Write a post, share your story, or start a discussion on your profile about Worthy Wage Day. Social media has become a strong communication tool. Let’s use it to our advantage.