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Worthy Wage Activities


  • Inform candidates and their elected officials about the early childhood education staffing crisis and the impact of low compensation on the quality of care.
  • Become a voter registrar and register parents and co-workers right at your workplace. (Contact your city or town hall for information on how to do this; you may be surprised how easy it is.)
  • Help get out the vote by posting reminders and doing an Election Day countdown, extending hours on Election Day for those who need extra time to go to the polls and arranging transportation to the polls for those who need it. 
  • Make life-sized "Worthy Wage dolls" by stuffing child-sized clothing and attaching a cardboard head. Attach signs to the dolls with messages like "If I'm a precious resource, why is my early childhood education provider paid less than a living wage?" or "Why did the early childhood educator cross the road? To get to her second job!"—along with some local wage statistics. They are great to display at public events, in public buildings, in storefronts (especially on and near Worthy Wage Day) or delivered to the offices of local politicians and/or community leaders.
  • Organize a rally at your state capitol, city hall, city landmark or other area where you will be visible. Some groups have included a march to the location. Signs, singing and chanting will get you noticed and your message heard. Speakers can include policy and decision-makers, parents, and teachers and providers. Tell your story and make clear what you are calling for an increased investment in public funds for early childhood education and to improve early childhood educator jobs.
  • Organize a "job shadow" to educate interested community members about the realities of early childhood education. Invite a guest (e.g., a local celebrity, an elected official or a political candidate) into your center or home-based program to "shadow" you or a co-worker, giving an up-close, firsthand perspective on the work. Cap off the experience by delivering a mock "paycheck" for the time worked.
  • Organize a mock early childhood education center in the chamber of your state capitol and invite your representatives to get a glimpse of the complexity of what goes on with a group of young children in child care every day. (Minnesota worthy wagers used this strategy very successfully.)
  • Send or deliver "May Day" baskets to policymakers with your message. Include parents and children in making and delivering these baskets.
  • Send or deliver piggy banks with 13 cents in them. This represents the average hourly increase for the highest-paid early childhood educators over the past 10 years--hardly enough to keep up with cost of living, support a family or save for retirement!
  • Send your message on an infant-size disposable diaper with a related Worthy Wage message, such as "It's time for a change!" Yes, the U.S. Postal Service will deliver these as mail! You can also send or deliver peanuts with a message such as "We won't keep working for peanuts!"
  • Contact and collaborate with your state federation or AFT national to organize a call-in day to Congress or your state legislature regarding pending legislation that affects your profession.


  • Publicize commitments to improve early childhood education jobs in your community on Worthy Wage Day or any day of the year. Create a pledge stating that you will work to improve jobs for early childhood educators. Collect signatures of your coworkers, elected officials and community leaders, then develop and issue a press release to highlight the people who have signed on. It will have a greater impact if you work together with other early childhood centers on this project--there is power in numbers!
  • Create a public display featuring the pledges that people have made to support child care issues. With the heading "Improving early childhood education jobs one step at a time," one display could consist of "footsteps" with the pledges written on them. Then make a copy of the "footsteps" to send to your legislators and request that they pledge to support specific legislation endorsed by your state federation.
  • Submit op-eds or letters to the editor to your local newspaper outlining the importance of investing in early childhood education. 
  • Invite a local news anchor to participate in a job shadow at your center.


  • If there is a local Worthy Wage campaign or other group working on compensation issues in your community, designate at least one person from the staff or your family child care support group to regularly represent your program and report back to the group.
  • Invite a knowledgeable early childhood education advocate from the community to a staff meeting or provider support group meeting to discuss policy initiatives in your state and your role as an advocate.
  • Stay informed and help others be informed about current issues in early childhood education by joining the CCW/AFTEF network.   
  • Build a support network among programs that are working to improve early childhood education jobs. When you link with other programs, you may discover new ways of achieving goals that others have already figured out, new potential resources and new partners in problem-solving. A support network may also help you monitor your progress, document what worked and what didn't, and celebrate your successes.
  • When you attend conferences, network with your peers. Conferences are great places to share diverse ideas with people who have the same goals as you. 
  • Have you ever used an overhead projector to capture a child's side profile, traced the silhouette of the head and mounted it on a contrasting-color paper? You can similarly capture the silhouettes of early childhood educators, and attach personal stories. A collection of many silhouettes with powerful stories makes a fabulous display and will strengthen your campaign work.
  • Plan a "teach-in" or professional in-service day to educate teachers, providers, directors, teacher educators and others on how to be a public policy advocate. Contact your local for assistance in arranging this professional development opportunity.

Public Education

  • Create a special bulletin board featuring newspaper articles, event announcements, staff profiles, etc., to inform parents and visitors about compensation and other issues of professional development and related community activities.
  • Include a regular column in your parent newsletter about the impact of the staffing crisis on your services and share information about what they can do to help create better early childhood education jobs.
  • Join with other early childhood professionals in your community for a speak-out, rally or celebration with a focus on good early childhood jobs.
  • Make a commitment to talk with someone outside of the field who has an interest in our issues.
  • Offer to make a presentation on quality early childhood education at a community college, civic organization or church group.
  • Worthy Wage campaign groups have created documentation panels, Worthy Wage dolls, provider profiles and more for conferences they attend. Not only does this serve as a great place for visual displays; it also creates an opportunity to share the great work you have been doing.
  • Visibility at conferences can be as easy as wearing Worthy Wage buttons or T-shirts, stickers, or a Worthy Wage ribbon attached to a name tag. At a Michigan conference one year, worthy wagers handed out ribbon armbands with the word "babysitter" in a circle with a diagonal line running through it.
  • If your event has a resource sharing area, set up an information table to display information on how to become involved in the fight for worthy wages. 
  • Create a "Worthy Work, Worthless Wages" public display that includes posters portraying teachers and providers at work, along with facts on low wages and high turnover. If your community has established a living wage or self-sufficiency standard, compare this with local early childhood professional wages. You can also put information on billboards, kiosks, restaurant table tents and other public areas. Some communities have put their stories and information on cardboard dolls or silhouettes. Display footprints carrying written pledges from early childhood programs to "take one step" toward improving teachers' and providers' jobs. Mail these pledges to policymakers to let them know what you are doing to improve early childhood education. Ask them to make a pledge to work toward securing a greater public investment in improving early childhood education.

Getting Parents Involved

  • Invite parents to your work site for coffee and donuts or plan an award ceremony to recognize a superhero in early childhood education.
  • Plan a parent-staff gathering to talk about the importance of early childhood education jobs, what they look like and what parents can do to help.
  • Create a time capsule to demonstrate support for our nation's children. It could include a scrap book with pictures and words expressing wishes for children and/or the future of early childhood education; a collection of individual words, art, music and artifacts; or whatever else you might want to put into a single container. Then create a ceremony for encapsulating your materials and for opening it at a future date. As an adaptable activity, this could be used to engage many members of a community, including members of a Worthy Wage group, individual early childhood programs and their families, or any combination of the above.
  • Ask parents to wear a message sticker to work on Worthy Wage Day. (See Downloads  for your free template)
  • Ask parents to send a postcard to policy makers asking for a direct investment of public funds in improving early childhood jobs. You can create your own personalized postcards, using photographs of teachers, providers, parents and children, placing paper stickers on the backs of the photos, writing your message and mailing them. Or, ask children to decorate 4 x 6 index cards and write your message on the back.
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