The following questions and answers are also available for download as an AWARD$ Plus Fact Sheet (haga clic aquí para hoja de hechos en Español) and Understanding Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$® Plus.
What is Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$® Plus?
Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$® Plus provides education-based salary supplements to low-paid early educators working full-time (30 hours per week) with children birth through age two in North Carolina. The program is designed to increase retention, education and compensation. AWARD$ Plus is funded by the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE).
What do I have to do to participate on AWARD$ Plus?
Infant-toddler educators must submit the AWARD$ Plus application, pay documentation and official transcripts or an active CDA Credential issued by the Council for Professional Recognition.
Are family child care providers eligible?
Yes! Family child care educators who consistently provide care for at least one child birth through age two are eligible.
How much will I receive?
Salary supplements are tied to the recipient’s level of education. The scale shows annual award amounts for full-time eligibility. Awards are issued in two six-month payments, each after the participant completes an assigned six-month commitment period in the same child care program.
How are supplements received?
Payments are issued following commitment period completion to eligible participants who have met the requirements. Commitment periods run from mid-month to mid-month and are established by the Child Care Services Association (CCSA) for each individual participant using application date, start date and education documentation. Payments are based on half of the annual award amount and are contingent upon funding availability. Program staff must verify that participants have worked in their child care programs during the preceding six months before checks can be issued. Payments are issued after CCSA has received the necessary funding from DCDEE. Once approved for an award, participants who remain in the same child care program do not need to reapply in order to receive future payments.
Do I have to pay taxes on the supplement I receive?
The salary supplement is income. Participants will receive an IRS-1099 form at the end of the year if they received $600 or more from CCSA during the calendar year. Recipients are responsible for reporting and paying any personal income taxes due.
Will I receive a supplement if I move to another child care program?
Checks are issued to participants after each eligible six-month period in the same child care program. If a participant moves to another licensed child care program and works with infants, ones or twos, then the commitment period must be reset based on reapplication and the employment date at the new site. This policy is designed to encourage more stability for the children in care.
If I work in a child care center, what is the center’s responsibility?
A child care center must agree to provide verification of an applicant’s employment status and income and agree not to use participation in the program to offset normal pay increases. The center is not responsible for providing the salary supplement should funding no longer be available.
How can I increase the level of the supplement I receive?
Participants in AWARD$ Plus may increase their supplement amounts by gaining more education. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program offers scholarships to early care and education professionals who want to earn course credits toward specific early childhood credentials or degrees. Contact the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program at CCSA (919-967-3272) for more information. Participants are encouraged to send AWARD$ Plus an updated official transcript after the completion of any formal coursework so staff can determine the highest possible award.
What is the Child Care WAGE$® Program and how is it different from Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$® Plus?
The Child Care WAGE$® Program (WAGE$) is an education-based salary supplement program designed to increase the retention, education and compensation of low paid teachers, directors and family child care providers working with children ages birth to five. WAGE$ is an option for all Smart Start partnerships and is available in counties that have elected to fund the program. While WAGE$ funds eligible positions working with children ages birth to five, Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$® Plus only funds full-time infant-toddler educators.
My county participates on WAGE$ at Tier One. Should I apply to AWARD$ Plus?
If you are currently being paid on Tier One by WAGE$ or are on a waiting list in a Tier One county, then it may benefit you to apply to the AWARD$ Plus program. Because AWARD$ Plus supplements are paid at Tier Two, your supplement amount would be higher. If you are an active participant on WAGE$ and there is a waiting list for AWARD$ Plus, you may still apply to AWARD$ Plus and continue receiving WAGE$ supplements until funding is available to move you. If you are on a WAGE$ waiting list and apply to AWARD$ Plus, your application will be moved even if there is a waiting list for AWARD$ Plus as well. You can only be on the waiting list for one program.
Can I participate on both AWARD$ Plus and WAGE$ (or a local supplement program)?
Interested infant-toddler teachers may apply to participate in AWARD$ Plus, but individuals can only participate in one supplement program. If you are currently receiving WAGE$ or a local supplement and a waiting list exists for AWARD$ Plus, you may continue to be paid by your current program until funding is available for AWARD$ Plus. If your current initiative provides higher payments, consider continuing with that program. If you are unsure which supplement program is most beneficial to you, contact an AWARD$ Plus or WAGE$ specialist at 919-967-3272.
My county participates on WAGE$ at Tier Three. Should I apply to AWARD$ Plus?
The supplement amounts for a Tier Three county are higher than the Tier Two supplements provided by AWARD$ Plus. If you are an active WAGE$ participant in a Tier Three county, you would receive a higher supplement by staying on WAGE$. However, the eligibility requirements may be different. If you are unfamiliar with your county’s eligibility, please call a WAGE$ specialist at 919-967-3272. If you are currently on a waiting list in one of these counties, and there is no waiting list for AWARD$ Plus, you may consider moving to AWARD$ Plus with the understanding your supplement would be less.
I am over income for WAGE$. Should I apply for AWARD$® Plus?
It is possible that you may be eligible for AWARD$® Plus if you make $20 per hour or less. You must also have a level of education on the AWARD$® Plus scale, be employed in a licensed facility and work at least 30 hours per week with children birth through two.
Have questions? We can help!
Thank you for your interest in the AWARD$ Plus Program. When calling or leaving a voicemail, please reference AWARD$ Plus. You can also send us a message online. Mail paperwork to:
Child Care Services Association
Attn: AWARD$ Plus
PO Box 901
Chapel Hill, NC 27514