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Resolutions & Amendments

30th International Convention - Las Vegas, NV (1992)

Worthy Wage Day

Resolution No. 77
30th International Convention
June 15-19, 1992
Las Vegas, NV


Many studies have proven the link between the quality of child care and the training and compensation of child care workers. Better education, training, salaries, and benefits clearly make for more sensitive and appropriate caregiving, less turnover, and better language and social development among children. Yet, as the demand for child care skyrocketed during the last decade, wages for child care teachers and providers have plunged more than 25 percent when adjusted for inflation; and


Child care workers constitute a very poorly paid workforce. According to the National Child Care Staffing Study, conducted by the Child Care Employee Project (CCEP), the average hourly wage of child care teachers in 1988 was $5.35, which is an annual income of $9,363 for full-time employment. (The 1988 poverty threshold for a family of three was $9,431 a year.) Fifty-seven percent of these workers earned $5 per hour or less. Most got no yearly cost-of-living nor merit increases. Despite gains in overall formal education and experience, child care teaching staff was paid even less in 1988 than in 1977; and


Staff turnover has nearly tripled in the last decade, jumping from 15 percent in 1977 to 41 percent in 1988. The most important determinant of staff turnover was poverty-level wages. The inability of early childhood programs to attract and retain qualified staff is increasingly identified as one of the most serious barriers to the availability of quality child care. As a result, young children who need security and stability constantly must adjust to new caregivers; and


Most child care teachers, even full-time staff, received only minimal employment benefits. Two out of five teachers received health coverage and one out of five had a retirement plan. Other than sick leave and paid holidays, the only benefit offered to a majority of the staff was reduced fees for child care. Teachers earning the lowest wages received the fewest benefits; and


In child care, children's experience is directly linked to the well-being of their caregivers. Good quality care requires an environment that values adults as well as children. Yet, as a nation, we are reluctant to acknowledge child care settings as a work environment for adults. Outdated attitudes about women's work and the family obscure our view of teachers' economic needs and the demands for their work; and


The Child Care and Development Block Grant requires states to use 5 percent of the total grant money on one or more of five areas of quality improvement including training and compensation of child care workers. However, most states are using the funds only to establish resource and referral programs and for minimal training; and


The Child Care Employee Project (CCEP) has embarked on a multi-year, "Worthy Wage Campaign," to improve the quality of child care in this country. A focal point of the Campaign is, "Worthy Wage Day," scheduled to be held each year during the "Week of the Young Child" (usually held the second week in April). On that day, communities across the country will educate the public about the day care staffing crisis and call for public policies that support increases in compensation and training for caregivers; and


For 1992, Worthy Wage Day was held on April 9, 1992. A "Child Care Worthy Wage Day," resolution was introduced in the U.S. Congress authorizing and requiring that the President issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.


That AFSCME and its affiliates vigorously advocate for salary enhancements in all current federal, state and local allotments for child care; and lobby for reimbursement rates for all public-funded child care which reflect the full cost of care based on improved salaries for teachers and providers; and


That AFSCME and its affiliates advocate for federal standards to improve the quality of child care, such as minimum staff-child ratios and group size; health and safety standards; immunization requirements and training requirements; and


That AFSCME and its affiliates become involved in the Worthy Wage Day activities in their communities each year of the Campaign.


Robert McEnroe, Executive Director and Delegate
Bettye W. Roberts, President
Alvin D. Turner, Secretary
AFSCME Council 1707
New York