Thankful that WAGE$ is Back! : I am WAGE$ with Christina Perdue

Christina Perdue is grateful that the Child Care WAGE$® education-based salary supplements are available again in Guilford County. She said, “I was so thankful when the Guilford County Partnership for Children got back on the program. Had they not, I probably would have had to take a different job. My rent and everything else have gone up so much. Child care can only pay so much because we can only charge so much. The WAGE$ funds I receive make it possible for me to stay here without having to figure out something else. I’ve had difficult times and the supplement just makes me realize it will be ok.” 

“I remember when I was on WAGE$ way back and I was able to buy my first washer and dryer. That’s a big purchase when you are young,” Christina said. “Right now, when I get that supplement, because of inflation and how things have gone up, I buy lots of groceries to make ends meet until I can get my next supplement. To put it in perspective, when you go to Hobby Lobby, they are hiring their full-time staff at $17 an hour and there are so many people in this field that don’t make that still, and we are taking care of children. It just doesn’t make sense. WAGE$ makes it easier to stay in early childhood or keeps me from having to get a second job. A lot of people in this field feel like they have to do that.”

Christina’s job in early childhood wasn’t what she originally planned to do with her bachelor’s degree. She taught high school for a year and realized that it wasn’t her passion and decided she would explore working with younger children. “I tried working with the little ones and realized I should have tried that first! It was a good match for me. They are so innocent, curious and loving. Once I got in this field, I stayed.” 

Her degree is in another field, but she took early childhood courses so she could be better prepared to teach children, and possibly to move into administration one day. Christina said, “Early childhood teaching is not just instinct, you really do have to learn how to do it. Kids don’t come with a handbook. Education is important.”

She knows that not everyone really understands what is involved in early care and education. She’s heard many people say they’d love to have her job so they can just play all day. “There is more to it than that,” Christina said. “It’s play, but the children are learning so much. It’s the children’s workplace. We try to recap all of our activities, so parents know what is happening.  I hope they understand the importance of those activities and what they really mean for their children.”

She started working in her current facility, Oak Ridge Weekday School, in 2004. “One of my favorite things about being with the children is hearing about their vacations because I love to travel. It is so different from how I might see things at my age and it is fun and engaging to hear their stories,” Christina said. “I can go almost anywhere in this town and someone will say, ‘There is Ms. Chris!’ Some have already graduated high school. It’s a wonderful, positive experience.” 

According to Christina, receiving WAGE$ supplements is also a positive experience. She said, “Due to the financial help, my stress level is reduced and this is a benefit for the children in my care. I can more effectively do my job with a lower stress level. This supplement is vital to people in the child care industry by providing them with much needed support. As we all know, the wages one earns in child care are not very competitive with other jobs and this supplement helps to make that more even.”