Parents and teachers rally in protest of D.C. Mayor Bowser’s budget cuts to child care

Teachers and parents stand in the park with signs protesting cuts to funding for early childhood education.
Rallygoers with homemade and printed signs gather in Samuel Gompers Memorial Park April 5 | Photo by Heather M. Ross

About 300 people of all ages came together Friday morning in Samuel Gompers Memorial Park to protest the proposed elimination of the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund.

The fund brings early childhood educator salaries in Washington, D.C. up to be on par with those of the district’s public school teachers—eliminating a pay disparity for early childhood educators.

Read more: The Child Care Cliff: State of the Child Care Industry

“We’re looking at losing teachers who are really passionate about this work, and our kids losing the stability and continuity of care with the same person that they’ve build trust with,” says Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen, director of early childhood policy with DC Action and mother of 1-year-old Reef.

Two women smile. The one on the left is holding a young child.
Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen (left)and her son, Reef, with Reef’s teacher (right) | Photo courtesy of Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen

Rallygoers like Anbar-Shaheen woke up early for the 8 a.m. gathering Friday, April 5, but as one speaker pointed out, not as early as many educators. Many child care providers have to be awake and ready before the rest of the world to receive children before parents go to work.

The rally was organized by Under 3 DC, a campaign dedicated to ensuring local elected officials fund the Birth-to-Three For All DC law.

The pay equity fund is a major component of this law, effective since 2018, which helps keep child care affordable for D.C. families and aims to strengthen pre- and post-natal care for mothers.

On April 3, Under 3 DC released a statement condemning D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s budget proposal, saying that it decimates child care.

According to the Washington Post, D.C. faces a budget shortfall over the next five years, and the decision to eliminate the fund from this year’s budget came from administration after a requirement from the district’s chief financial officer to replenish one of the city’s reserve funds—a requirement Bowser says she strongly disagreed with.

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Without the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund, Anbar-Shaheen says D.C.’s parents are looking at a future where providers try to make up for lost wages by raising tuition—which will make child care unaffordable for many families.

The other outcome is that providers who can’t raise tuition to keep teachers’ salaries where they are will lose experienced and passionate teachers, resulting in closed providers and decreased quality of early childhood education.

This is a developing story. Check back on for updates.


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