Mary Pauper: A Historical Exploration of Early Care and Education Compensation, Policy, and Solutions

The Early Educator Investment Collaborative is committed in our work to recognizing and understanding the historical context in which structural racism continues to present in the early childhood workforce and eliminating the systemic oppression that keeps many early childhood educators living in poverty. In 2021, Child Trends was selected to conduct a literature review and develop a policy and practice report to map the history of systemic racism in the U.S. and how it has influenced early childhood education (ECE) policy and practice, with a particular focus on educator pay and benefits, preparation, and workforce stability.

The report, Mary Pauper: A Historical Exploration of Early Care and Education Compensation, Policy, and Solutions, articulates a landscape analysis and a set of recommendations for policy, practice, and future research to improve the professional status of early childhood educators. The intent of this work is to build a common understanding of the biggest equity issues impacting early childhood educators—historically and in the present day.

Download the Executive Summary.

In an April 2022 webinar, the authors and a panel of discussants reviewed the report findings and explored how the history of systemic racism in the U.S. has influenced ECE policy and practice.



The authors focused on five different time frames for the landscape analysis and report development—years 1400-1619, 1619-1870s, 1870s-1940s, 1945-1970s, and 1970s-2020s—to understand the social and policy contexts that have impacted ECE policy through history. In total, more than 200 articles, books, gray literature, and other resources were reviewed.

Download a timeline of key dates, context, and policies highlighted in the research.


Child Trends’ research illuminates the stark history of inequity—from the racism, sexism, and oppression that is codified in U.S. policy to wage disparities and racialized compensation, ultimately devaluing the early childhood workforce. The findings also shed light on solutions—the accompanying policy and practice report offers actionable recommendations for centering racial equity in conversations about early childhood educator pay and benefits, preparation, and stability for policymakers, practitioners, and the philanthropic community. We are pleased to share these findings with the early childhood field and funders and are hopeful for the ways this will guide learning and progress in a diverse and well-prepared early childhood workforce.

Note: This resource was reposted on April 4, 2022, to reflect updates made by the authors. Specifics regarding the updates can be found in the acknowledgments.

Suggested Citation: Lloyd, C.M., Carlson, J., Barnett, H., Shaw, S., & Logan, D. (2021). Mary Pauper: A historical exploration of early care and education compensation, policy, and solutions. Child Trends.