Step Up to WAGE$ Overview

Step Up to WAGE$ is a new opportunity for states that have an interest in supporting the workforce through the American Rescue Plan Act to implement a short-to-long term early childhood workforce stabilization strategy.


Background

The Child Care WAGE$® Program is a nationally recognized compensation strategy for the early care and education workforce. Child Care Services Association (CCSA) in North Carolina created and implements the program in the state. In addition, other states have licensed the model through CCSA’s T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center (Center). WAGE$ provides education-based salary supplements or incentives based on six-month periods worked in the same child care program with the goals of increasing compensation, education and retention. These and other important benefits have been achieved throughout the program’s history.

The traditional WAGE$ license identifies multiple expectations to help ensure the quality of the program in each participating state, including various levels of monitoring and assessment. The Center works with each state to develop an education/incentive scale, eligibility and policies and then provides ongoing training and technical assistance with the expectation that each state will continue to pursue necessary funding to sustain and grow the program.

With significant funding coming to states for early care and education through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), states need to identify the best ways to meet needs expediently and with the understanding that the money is temporary. Workforce supports are critical and states that implement workforce-related strategies can take the opportunity to showcase their impact and advocate for sustainable funding.

CCSA is offering a new approach for states that want to launch WAGE$ with ARPA funds, Step Up to WAGE$. The goal is to offer a modified “off the shelf” demonstration program that can be implemented quickly and get money into the hands of deserving early educators.

Selection Process

The selection process for identifying a prospective Step Up to WAGE$ administrative home will be state-driven based on adherence to the following guidelines:

  • Each state will self-select an organization to serve as the administrative home to operate the Step Up to WAGE$ program.
  • The prospective administrative home will submit a formal application to the Center for review and approval.
  • The Step Up to WAGE$ application must be accompanied by:
    • a funding commitment statement from the funder,
    • letters of support from at least two early care and education focused organizations and
    • a copy of the most recent financial audit.
  • Signature by an authorized organizational leader on the Memorandum of Agreement.

If an organization is currently licensed by CCSA to administer the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program in the state, then that organization would also be the administrative home for Step Up to WAGE$. In this case, only the funding commitment statement from the funder and the signed Memorandum of Agreement are required.

With Step Up to WAGE$, states that sign the Memorandum of Agreement to participate will be able to utilize the education/salary supplement scale, eligibility and primary policies of the model program. With Center approval, limited modifications may be made to better ensure the program meets state needs.

After the two- to three-year period within which the ARPA funds must be spent, Step Up to WAGE$ states will have the option to move onto the Child Care WAGE$® Program and obtain a full license.

Contact us for a full application packet.

The Role of the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center

The collaborative relationship between the Center and the Step Up to WAGE$ administrative home is vital. The Center will provide a package of “off the shelf” resources to assist the administrative home with its launch of Step Up to WAGE$.

The Center will provide:

  • Program structure guidelines (scale/eligibility)
  • A general operational manual
  • A uniform database
  • Training
  • Limited technical assistance and/or monthly calls to all participating states. If major issues are identified that warrant intensive technical assistance, hourly fees may apply.
  • An annual review of materials and database entry for up to five participants
  • An annual general database review
  • A monitoring activity to include the review and discussion of answers to key programmatic questions (outreach, funding outlook, etc.).

Participating states will:

  • Complete the application and sign the Memorandum of Agreement
  • Participate in training
  • Submit participant application and fact sheet for Center approval prior to use
  • Submit identified reporting data and success stories as requested
  • Provide materials for review as requested
  • Respond to the monitoring questionnaire
  • Agree to host a WAGE$ database and provide remote database access
  • Submit required fee

The Step Up to WAGE$ eligibility and standard scale will be discussed with states that choose to participate.

Questions?

  • Is the Step Up to WAGE$ education and salary supplement scale connected to a state’s career ladder?

    Step Up to WAGE$ is an “off the shelf” product that has a specific scale unique to this program. Minor adjustments may be made to the scale and/or eligibility to better reflect state needs, but those changes must include key components of the Step Up to WAGE$ model. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center will work with interested states regarding possible changes.

  • Do states/administrative homes have flexibility in the eligibility requirements and scale for Step Up to WAGE$?

    Step Up to WAGE$ is an “off the shelf” product that includes a unique scale and eligibility recommendations to make it easier for states to get the program started. Minor adjustments may be made to the scale and/or eligibility to better reflect state needs, but those changes must include key components of the Step Up to WAGE$ model. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center will work with interested states regarding possible changes.

  • Does Step Up to WAGE$ provide sample budgets or guidance to create budgets?

    The budget will vary for each state based on multiple factors, including the basic size of the program. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center cannot recommend a budget for states, but we do have a fact sheet that provides information on a potential method to use for planning purposes. The key is having data in your state, such as a workforce study, upon which to base your projections. Please email allisonm@childcareservices.org for a copy of the fact sheet if needed.

Start the Process of Bringing Step Up to WAGE$ to Your State


Contact

Interested states should begin planning now and may ask general/preliminary questions of the National Center at any time by emailing Marsha Basloe or Allison Miller.