For decades, North Carolina early childhood educators have faced issues of poor compensation, high turnover and under-education. In North Carolina, a survey released in October commissioned by the NC Child Care Resource & Referral Council found that more than 80% of child care centers say it is more difficult to recruit and retain staff now than before the pandemic. As a result, the survey found that about one-third (32%) of centers have had to temporarily close classrooms due to the labor shortage. Beyond low pay, the flexibility to work remotely does not apply to the child care workforce. Child care is an on-site business.
Child Care Services Association (CCSA) created the Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) Early Childhood® NC Scholarship Program in 1990 to provide a debt-free college education with scholarships for the early education workforce. Through T.E.A.C.H. NC scholarships, early childhood teachers, family childhood educators and program administrators can earn early childhood credentials and degrees from associate to master’s. Participants and their sponsoring employers must share the cost of the education, which creates a strong partnership to improve care and education for our youngest children.
From July 2020 through June 2021, the T.E.A.C.H. NC scholarship program provided scholarships to 2,064 child care teachers, administrators, family home-based professionals and community specialists in 93 counties in North Carolina with enrollment in 50 community colleges, 13 state-supported universities and six private colleges. During this time, 58,554 children were cared for in a setting where a staff member was studying early childhood education through a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® NC scholarship.
LaTida Adams is a T.E.A.C.H recipient and December 2021 UNC-Wilmington master’s program graduate. Initially, she thought she might have to drop out of school to start her own child care program, but then one of her mentors told her about CCSA’s T.E.A.C.H. scholarship. Today, LaTida is living her dream of owning a child care program and enjoys working with children every day, something she believes was only possible “thanks to T.E.A.C.H.,” she said. “I am grateful and thankful because not only T.E.A.C.H. but CCSA has been very instrumental to me and my program.”
The creation of TeachNC in 2019, in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), BEST NC and TEACH.org, expands support for potential educators by helping anyone considering teaching K-12 in North Carolina. TeachNC delivers research-based tools and supports for prospective teachers, helping reduce the barriers to applying to and enrolling in an educator preparation program.
In a survey by the initiative, 60% of TeachNC subscriber-respondents reported an increased interest in teaching and 59% of TeachNC’s applicants reported that without the support of TeachNC tools, they may not have applied to a North Carolina educator prep program. TeachNC had more than 600 applicants in its first year, while a successful second year (September 2020 through August 2021) led to more than 1,400 applicants to educator preparation programs. Of these applicants, 50% identified as candidates of color, while a quarter of applicants reporting a focus area wanted to teach a STEM-related subject or special education.
While the CCSA T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® NC Scholarship Program supports early childhood professionals, North Carolina’s state-run program, TeachNC, provides scholarship and professional support for anyone considering K-12 teaching. With the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® NC Scholarship Program and TeachNC working to improve the professional development, compensation and retention for education professionals, all of North Carolina’s teachers have a chance to lead our state’s next generation to a bright future.
 NC CCR&R Council, North Carolina Staffing Survey, October 2021.
 NCDPI, TeachNC Initiative Attracts More than 2,000 Aspiring Teachers, December 2021.