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News February 28, 2024

Working Towards an Equitable ECE System in Philadelphia

We have the ability to dream of a different system.

Reinvestment Fund recently hosted a transformative virtual convening, “Navigating and Reimagining Child Care: A Conversation with Philadelphia’s ECE Stakeholders,” facilitated by Bainum Family Foundation in collaboration with DC Action Corp. The gathering brought together PA’s key players in early childhood education (ECE)—including childcare providers, intermediaries, local foundations, advocacy and policy organizations and representation from OCDEL and the City’s Office of Children and Families—for a meaningful discussion.

For 25 years, Reinvestment Fund has invested over $30 million in early childhood education (ECE). Our high-impact, high-efficiency investments are based on a revolutionary combination of data that analyzes:

  • the supply of early childcare centers (including non-licensed centers),
  • the quality of each center, and
  • the demand for these centers—based both on where families live and where they commute.

Since 2017, Bainum Family Foundation has funded Reinvestment Fund to provide an analysis of child care supply and demand data and implement early learning facility expansion and improvement financing initiatives. Through this partnership, $3.8 million grants and forgivable loans have been issued to date in D.C.

The event began with the Bainum Family Foundation sharing insights into their pivotal work, particularly in Washington D.C. and other regions where they are actively engaged. They emphasized the significance of valuing childcare providers and families as “proximity experts” – individuals intimately connected to the challenges and intricacies of the field. 

A central theme of the conversation revolved around the need for a mindset shift to reimagine a new ECE system that is both equitable and accessible. Bainum Family Foundation introduced the audience to their initiative called “WeVision Early Ed” in DC, aiming to pioneer reimagined early childhood programs serving as examples of fully funded sites. WeVision EarlyEd is flipping the top-down approach to policy development by engaging those closest to young children and the vital work of child care. The initiative is designed to guide necessary conversations and test ideal solutions — beginning with the District of Columbia and then influencing other communities across the nation.

The discussion further explored a significant Pay Equity win in Washington D.C. This achievement ensures that child care providers, especially teachers caring for children aged birth to 3 years, are now compensated with salaries equivalent to their counterparts in the school district, considering their degrees and experiences. On average, this accounted to a 30%- 40% increase in pay for ECE teachers.

After learning about the DC Pay Equity win, Shineal Hunter, Childcare Business Owner & Community Organizer, expressed in the chat, “I believe that if everyone is on the same page with the same ask, it is possible!  District of Columbia is proof of how unified advocacy works! Kudos” 

Attendees expressed genuine enthusiasm and encouragement, finding resonance in the information shared. Dr. Leslie Spina, Executive Director of Kinder Academy, Inc, exclaimed in the chat, “Hallelujah, a comprehensive plan is possible!” The impact of the discussions extended beyond the event, with many participants carrying the insights throughout the rest of the day. 

Looking ahead, Reinvestment Fund will send out a simple survey to the attendees. This survey aims to gather feedback and insights from participants, fostering continued conversations and collaboration in the realm of early childhood education.  

The event proved to be a pivotal moment for stakeholders in Philadelphia’s ECE community, setting the stage for further advancements and collaborations in the pursuit of an equitable and accessible early childhood education system. 

Learn more about our ECE work here and check out our latest insights and research in Philadelphia and D.C. below.

Cultivating Strong Communities Citywide Through Fund For Quality (FFQ)
Read the impact story
A Longstanding Childcare Center Makes Way for 40 PHL PREK Seats
Read the impact story
Early Learning Supply & Demand in the District of Columbia (Series)
Read the research

For more information, contact:

Sharon Mullings-Neilson
ECE Community Engagement Program Manager
LaToshia DeVose
Program Director, ECE

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