- The New York City Department of Education is “underfunding” early-childhood programs at the city’s settlement houses, which will make it difficult for the community-based centers to provide high-quality programs, according to an analysis released Wednesday by United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), which represents 42 settlement houses across the city.
- School-based preschool teachers with a bachelor’s degree, for example, receive a starting salary of $56,711, compared to $34,085 in settlement houses, according to the analysis, which was conducted in partnership with SeaChange Capital Partners, a bank that works with nonprofit organizations. The settlement houses currently run 50 EarlyLearn programs for children from birth to age 4, six family child care networks, and Pre-K for All and 3-K for All at 21 sites.
- UNH member houses, the report says, won’t “be able to grow, let alone maintain, their volume of service without considerably increased rates to close the salary gap,” cover indirect costs — such as IT, human resources and infrastructure — and ensure facilities meet health code requirements. During a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city has already taken "major steps to give them much greater parity. And there’s more to be done and we’re engaging them in that conversation."
As publicly funded preschool programs have grown over the years, some states and cities have increasingly contracted with a mix of providers to have enough classrooms and teachers to meet the demand. In other locations, leaders have implemented mixed-delivery systems from the beginning, with one goal being to improve the quality of community-based programs. In addition, schools often don’t have enough space for several pre-K classes, and the community-based child care centers, nonprofits, faith-based programs and other providers were already serving young children anyway.
In many districts, pre-K teachers now earn the same amount as teachers in kindergarten and other elementary grades, according to a 2017 report from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley and the National Institute for Early Education Research. But those same salary schedules often don't apply to teachers in non-school settings. One reason is because community-based centers serve children across the birth-to-5 spectrum, center directors are often reluctant to pay pre-K teachers more than their other staff members, which reflects “wider problems caused by an [early care and education] system that is currently segmented by age of child and funding stream,” the report said. “Differences in public funding amounts and processes continue to perpetuate a sharp divide between ‘education’ and ‘care’ services, despite being provided to the same children, in the same setting and sometimes by the same teacher.”
The report, however, shows compensation parity is possible — and, in fact, some steps in that direction have taken place in New York City, where citywide preschool has been one of de Blasio’s signature programs. In 2016, the city and its child care union, District Council 1707, reached an agreement that would raise salaries for the worker's union to the level of those of pre-K teachers. Even so, union members say they still aren’t being paid at the level of teachers in school-based programs. On Monday, the union, which represents about 8,000 teachers and providers — including some at settlement houses — voted to approve a possible one-day strike over compensation issues later this spring. They were also expected to rally Wednesday at city hall. Union leaders, however, say they hope to work with the city to prevent a strike.