Under 3 DC
The early years of a child’s life are a wondrous and amazing period of development. In fact, the first three years shape every year after. And every family needs help when they have an infant or toddler. Together, we can make sure DC remains an attractive place to live, to work, and to raise a family.
Who We Are
educators, advocates, community-based organizations, and health professionals who
believe every child deserves a strong start and a limitless future. Our work centers on the people experiencing racial and economic injustice every day. It shines a spotlight on the need for more public investments to support families with infants and toddlers. Together, we can set the city on a path to creating and sustaining a high-quality, equitable early childhood system.
In 2020, the Under 3 DC Coalition was launched to advocate for full funding and implementation of Birth-to-Three For All DC. The Coalition involves and mobilizes people and groups across the District of Columbia from diverse perspectives, including parents, educators, civic leaders, leaders from different demographic groups, businesses, and congregations. The Coalition is led by an executive committee made up of majority women-led, and people of color-led organizations: DC Action, DC Early Learning Collaborative, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Early Childhood Innovation Network, Jews United for Justice, and SPACEs in Action.
Why Birth-to-Three for All DC Matters
In 2018, the District of Columbia enacted the Birth-to-Three For All DC Act, which will create a comprehensive system of services for infants and toddlers and their families. For example, it would establish wages for early educators comparable to those in the K-12 system, stipulate that no family would spend more than 10% of their income on child care, and support home visiting and a variety of health and mental health-related services. The Act is a key element of addressing the city’s deep racial and economic inequities.
To join the Under 3 DC Coalition contact Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen, Director of Early Childhood, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early Educators Get a Pay Boost!
In 2018, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the Birth-to-Three for All DC law. This law included a promise to early childhood educators of salary and benefits equivalent to DC's public school teachers with similar education and experience. In 2021, the DC Council passed a tax increase to make it happen and convened the Early Childhood Educator Equitable Compensation Task Force to develop a plan to increase early educator pay. Below are the task force's 2022 reports and accompanying materials about the pay increase, to date.
Initial Report of the Task Force, Jan 2022 | Final Report of the Task Force, March 2022 | Task Force Pay Supplement FAQ | Compensation Parity Quick Guide English | Compensation Parity Quick Guide Spanish | Under 3 DC blog post about pay supplements
"In this pivotal moment of our city’s recovery, we ask that you continue to respond to the urgent needs of this vital sector by deepening local investments for programs that have kept families healthy throughout these challenging times, ensure that fair compensation reaches our talented workforce so they can continue to care for their families as they continue to care for ours, and direct local funds to support thousands of families facing the possibility of eviction."
Under 3 DC Infographic, April 2021
Birth to Three Program Fact Sheets, 2021:
"Today, the DC Council took the first big step toward funding Birth-to-Three for All, the District’s landmark early learning legislation. Councilmember Charles Allen introduced a budget amendment to the Committee of the Whole at today’s meeting that would fund early educator compensation increases and support other public good programs."
Mayor Bowser missed an unprecedented opportunity to combine federal and local funding to make bold, transformative investments that would strengthen the District’s early childhood system and ensure a just recovery for all children, families, and early learning programs. Her fiscal year (FY) 2022-2025 budget for early education fails to take transformative steps toward a high-quality, equitable, and sustainable early education system—as envisioned in the Birth to Three for all DC Law, which remains largely unfunded since its passage in 2018. The Mayor’s proposal uses nearly $147 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) and other federal funding through FY 2025 to make short-term investments sprinkled across a range of programs.
Letter to Mayor Bowser: The District Must Maximize Opportunity for Early Childhood Sector Offered by American Rescue Plan, April 2021
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 offers an unprecedented opportunity to preserve the District’s current supply of child care and make investments to set up our early childhood education system to be strong, high-quality, affordable, and accessible. See our letter to Mayor Bowser and her administration with our recommendations for urgent use of these funds.
A strong education and workforce pipeline, starting at the earliest ages, is essential to promote
the life success of District residents, end racial inequities, and generate a thriving economy. The
District is not developing the workforce talent it needs, which could cost jobs now and in the
future. Business leaders have a vested interest in public funding for early childhood education
and care, health, and other services for children birth to age three that both prepare them for
success and enable working parents to focus on their jobs. This brief makes the case for funding
those services, which are incorporated in the landmark Birth-to-Three For All DC Act of 2018. Here is the version with full footnotes.
Letter to Mayor Bowser on Coalition's FY22 Budget Priorities, December 2020
"Now is not the time for budget cuts, underfunding of services, or harmful reprogramming of subsidy dollars that could emaciate our early childhood systems. Such actions would only hinder the District’s economic recovery; exacerbate inequality in the city; and further compound COVID-19 related suffering for DC families, especially Black and Latinx families."
The Status of DC Child Care During COVID-19, November 2020
As COVID-19 continues to create challenges for early learning programs and families with young children, survey responses from local early learning programs highlight the deep system failures that endanger the sector.
The coronavirus pandemic shook the District to its core in 2020, but Under 3 DC persisted. The community came together and fought to preserve funding for critical services for children and families. Protecting funding for health and the child care programs was the most important victory. Any loss of child care and any cuts to successful health programs puts the well-being of the District’s youngest children at risk.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed and compounded existing issues of access, quality, equity and funding in the District of Columbia’s early learning (or “child care”)1 system for families with infants, toddlers and children too young to attend elementary school. Investments in our early learning system are a necessity for reopening the District and supporting long-term economic recovery. This system was already fragile financially before the pandemic — with programs operating on thin margins — and will not survive unless dedicated recovery funding is provided. Workers with young children will not return to work without safe and affordable child care.
Two recent surveys conducted among teachers, owners and directors of early learning programs by the District of Columbia Association for the Education of Young Children (DCAEYC) and the Under 3 DC Coalition (Under 3 DC) shed light on the looming and overlooked child care crisis. The report highlights five key takeaways and recommendations designed to help policymakers, funders and advocates make informed decisions about where resources are needed most in the District to support families with young children as businesses begin to reopen and temporary work-from-home options are phased out