SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — San Francisco will launch a new initiative to invest up to $60 million annually to advance pay raises for the city’s 2,000-plus early childhood educators.

On Thursday, Mayor London Breed announced what she calls the first early childhood educator wage initiative of its kind in the nation that will significantly raise education wages, increase benefits, improve working conditions, and support educational attainment throughout the city. The new initiative will be led by the City’s Office of Early Care and Education (OECE).

“San Francisco needs to do more to support children and families, and that includes attracting and retaining the early educators who do the critical work of caring for our youngest,” said Mayor Breed. “We know early childhood experiences lay the groundwork for later success in academics and beyond. This initiative, and all the work we are doing around transforming early childcare, is about providing the support for early childhood experiences that will help us improve our City’s future and the lives of everyone here.” 

The city said the investment will enable educators to be more fairly paid for their work and hopes it will help attract new educators to the field. By 2025, San Francisco intends to support a living wage of no less than $28 an hour for all early educators in City-funded programs, serving over 6,500 children ages 0 to 5 every year.

The initiative will raise each early educator’s salary by approximately $8,000 to $30,000 annually.

“When early educators are fairly compensated and have the resources they need, children thrive,” says Ingrid Mezquita, Executive Director of OECE. “For too long, society has undervalued the critical role of early educators, a workforce primarily comprised of women of color. Increasing wages for early educators will ensure that the people who care for our youngest children can continue to provide them with high-quality care and education.” 

This program is funded by a Commercial Rent Tax that was passed by the voters in June 2018 with funds dedicated to serving early childcare programs in San Francisco. In addition to an increase in wages, the City said it will continue to provide funding to programs to improve workplace conditions for early educators, resulting in improved teacher job satisfaction and well-being. The City will also significantly expand eligibility for City-subsidized enrollment in high-quality Early Childhood Education programs serving children ages 0 to 5.