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Early Childhood Evaluation Hub: CCCAP Teacher Wage Increase Pilot and Spotlight on External Research Partner, MDRC

Teacher stands beside easel pad with marker in hand.

Between 2021 and 2022, the Colorado Department of Early Childhood received over $700 million in stimulus funding to strengthen Colorado’s early childhood sector. The Colorado Lab is coordinating the Early Childhood Evaluation Hub, contracting with multiple evaluation teams to conduct high-quality evaluations of more than a dozen prioritized stimulus-funded activities to ensure the goals of the activities are being met. We’re highlighting these great partners over the next several newsletters.

Early Childhood Evaluation Hub: CCCAP Teacher Wage Increase Pilot

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) helps families who are working in low-wage jobs, searching for work, in school, or experiencing homelessness to find child care assistance. The aim of the stimulus-funded CCCAP Teacher Wage Increase Pilot is to provide a livable wage to early childhood teachers in CCCAP-participating programs.

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) reached out broadly to early childhood centers across the state that were eligible for the wage increases. Twenty-two centers were randomly selected to receive available stimulus funds for wage increases. The remaining 52 eligible centers that did not receive funding are participating as the control group in the Randomized Control Trial (RCT) of this two-year pilot.

Findings from the RCT will help to determine the impact of wage increases on workforce retention, including any reductions to teacher turnover and the ability to attract qualified teachers to fill open positions.

Spotlight on External Research Partner: MDRC

The evaluation of the CCCAP Teacher Wage Increase Pilot is led by external research partner, Dr. Cynthia Miller. As Senior Fellow for Economic Mobility, Housing, and Communities for the national research firm MDRC, Dr. Miller is an economist whose work focuses on policies and programs to increase the employment and earnings of low-wage workers and disadvantaged young adults.

Dr. Miller notes that early childhood teachers and assistant teachers in the 22 centers are eligible to receive an increase in pay of $3 to $7.50 per hour, depending on their level of experience and geographic location. To help ensure the teachers understood the potential impacts a wage increase might have on their existing benefits and economic stability, Dr. Miller and her team provided

information through videos and handouts, presenting differing scenarios and answering questions. At this point, over 90% of eligible teachers and assistant teachers have accepted wage increases.

“To my knowledge, this type of time-limited infusion of funding to early childhood teacher salaries—at this high level of funding—is unique. I believe it’s also the first time a randomized controlled trial will measure the impacts of this type of approach,” Dr. Miller said. “Understanding the effects of increased wages for early childhood professionals has the potential to inform important policy decisions for this workforce, which is critical to the well-being of children, families, and the economy.”

Dr. Cynthia Miller