Compensation and Credentialing in American Jewish Early Childhood Centers


Compensation and Credentialing in American Jewish Early Childhood Centers

May 2023

Being an early childhood educator is not a job -- it is a profession. Research has shown that staff knowledge and skills are among the most critical components of quality in an early childhood program. Staff in American Jewish early childhood centers (ECCs) are committed, educated and passionate. In order to continue to build vibrant centers of learning, we need to support educators in their ability to build a financially sustainable futures for themselves.  

Who We Are

This research is the product of multiple organizations and federations across the country. Thank you to: American Jewish University, Builders of Jewish Education - Los Angeles, Center of the Advancement of Jewish Education - Miami, Combined Jewish Philanthropies - Boston, Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ), The Efshar Project - Boulder/Denver, JCC Association of North American, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund - San Francisco, Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, The Jewish Education Project - New York, Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Jewish Federation of St. Louis, Jewish United Fund - Chicago.   

What We Did

We pulled together partners from across the country to better understand how roles, years of experience and educational credentials impact early childhood salaries. Data from this research represent 421 centers from across the country and nearly 5,000 early childhood educators. 

What We Found

  • Jewish ECCs have tenured leadership
  • Lead teachers in Jewish ECCs are split evenly among distinct experience levels
  • Salaries of teachers in Jewish ECCs are comparable to those in the national early childhood education ECE field
  • Salaries of teachers in Jewish ECCs are half those of public school kindergarten teachers. The median annual wage for public school kindergarten teachers is similar to the median wage for directors of Jewish ECCs
  • Teachers in Jewish ECCs are more likely to have bachelor's degrees than teachers in other sectors of early childhood education, and yet there is no pay bump between associate's and bachelor's degrees in certain markets
  • Teachers with ECE-related credentials earn higher pay and stay in the field longer
  • Teachers with master's degrees get paid more and stay in the field longer
  • Benefits common at other organizations/companies are not offered at Jewish ECEs

What it Means

  • Without meaningful changes, including higher-quality job opportunities and appropriate compensation, the sector will struggle to return to its pre-pandemic size, leaving many families vying for few openings
  • Educators need to be supported differently, depending on where they are in their career. Differentiated professional development may help new teachers feel more supported, and may give more tenured teachers deeper learning and leadership experience.
  • Jewish early childhood programs must plug into advocacy work in their communities.  There are a number of states and cities that are running innovative programs in order to help their early childhood educators in these endeavors.