AzAEYC Receives Award to Improve Worthy Wages for Early Childhood Educators

Sharon Reede, a preschool teacher at Lincoln Learning Center in Phoenix, Arizona, reads with one of the children in her classroom. Photo courtesy of AzAEYC.

FOR RELEASE: February 14, 2024

Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children (AzAEYC) is pleased to announce a recent grant award from the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact (“the Institute”) which will support the creation of a community-informed guidance document to help child care providers determine how to improve fair compensation for early childhood educators in the state. Investing in early childhood education and care is a leading priority for the Institute since their inception in 2018. The Institute works to close equity gaps by partnering with organizations, governmental entities and non-profits to create stronger communities. 

Between January and December 2024, AzAEYC will partner with state agencies, early learning organizations, early childhood educators, and community members to develop and refine a compensation guidance document that builds on the state’s existing work. In addition, AzAEYC will facilitate four community-based forums that ensure that the voices of early childhood educators inform and lead the work. Activities will specifically support engagement with early childhood educators and child care directors who are Black, Indigenous, Latine(o/a), and other educators of color and those working in rural regions.

Kamaie Clark, M.Ed., president of the AzAEYC governing board, explained, “Low wages fueled by a lack of sustained public investments have led to retention issues of qualified educators in the child care field. To address these challenges, AzAEYC will develop a guidance document that helps child care providers across the state determine how to budget a competitive salary commensurate with educational level as well as educators’ essential role in communities. As an Affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), AzAEYC is in an opportune position to incorporate the national Power to the Profession initiative into this project and develop the state’s first ever collective compensation calculation guide.”

Shayna Hetzel, a Community and Social Impact Director at the American Family Insurance Institute, added, “The Institute is thrilled to partner with AzAEYC on their critical efforts to both engage and advance support for the workforce behind the workforce. We believe quality care for children and their families begins with a well-compensated, well-recognized early education workforce.” 

Dr. Eric Bucher, AzAEYC’s chief executive officer, said, “Our goal is for the guidance document to serve not as a one-size-fits-all formula but rather as a resource that supports Arizona’s child care providers to learn how to develop local, relevant wage models based on context and community. It will be unique to Arizona communities to meet our unique needs.”

The project will produce a guidance document that child care providers can use to determine localized wage and benefits packages aligned with the state’s early childhood educator designations that incorporate cost of living, knowledge and experience, educational attainment, and local community needs. The document will be translated into Spanish. Resources developed in this project will be made available in AZToolkit, the state’s one-stop web platform powered by AzAEYC that includes more than 1,800 tools and templates to help Arizona’s child care providers save time, maximize their funding, and improve quality.


Jo Chavez, M.B.A.

AzAEYC Media/Communications Specialist 

Clare Hendricks

American Family Insurance 


About AzAEYC

AzAEYC works to advance a well-supported, well-compensated early childhood profession and provides training and technical assistance around early childhood advocacy, quality early learning environments, and developmentally appropriate teaching practices.

About American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact 

The American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact is a venture capital firm and partner of choice for exceptional entrepreneurs who are building scalable, sustainable businesses in a long-term effort to close equity gaps in America. It also recognizes that capacity building and supporting organizations and experts who have been working toward social causes are equally important in making a positive impact within our communities around the country.