The Guilford County Partnership for Children (GCPC) mission is to ensure that all Guilford County children ages birth to five are emotionally, intellectually, and physically ready for success in school.
Using public dollars and private donations, GCPC creates new programs and collaborates with existing ones to measurably improve the lives of children while strengthening families. The organization also administers one of the largest NC Pre-K programs in North Carolina, serving more than 2,000 preschoolers every school year.
With Smart Start expansion funding, GCPC is now able to fund the Child Care WAGE$ program in Guilford County. WAGE$ provides education-based salary supplements to child care educators working with children ages birth to five.
“We are very excited to bring WAGE$ back to Guilford County,” said Ann Vandervliet Stratton, GCPC executive director. “We’re hearing there’s a 50 percent turnover rate in the county’s early education sector due to low wages and benefits. There’s enough pandemic-related hardship for working parents. We need to support stable, accessible, high-quality child care for our families, children, and the local economy.”
It’s a natural connection. GCPC is also involved in early childhood training, workshops, and other resources for early childhood educators. The Child Care WAGE$ program is designed to increase retention, education, and compensation.
According to the program, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University reports that “substantial investments in training, recruiting, compensating, and retaining a high-quality workforce must be a top priority for society.” WAGE$ helps attract educated teachers to the field in the first place who might not otherwise choose it due to typically low salaries and benefits. The additional compensation helps retain those educated teachers, and the program encourages (even mandates) additional education.
“WAGE$ produces measurable results,” Stratton said. “N.C. communities that invest in WAGE$ typically see a 25 percent reduction in the turnover rate.”
To be eligible for WAGE$, educators must work in a licensed child care program, earn less than $17 per hour, work at least six months in the same child care program, and meet certain educational criteria.
Lower turnover rates are important for children in early child care settings. The bond children create with their teachers sets the groundwork for positive learning experiences. When a program has teacher turnover, it is difficult for the center owner and the young children they serve.
Achieving higher levels of education can increase the supplement amount an educator can receive. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Program offers scholarships to child care professionals who want to earn course credits toward certification or a degree. GCPC is sharing ways early childhood educators can get help with the training and education to increase the supplement they will receive through the program.
WAGE$ is a funding collaboration between GCPC (Smart Start) and the Division of Child Development and Early Education. It is administered by the Child Care Services Association.