The Child Care WAGE$® Program provides education-based salary supplements to low-paid teachers, directors and family child care providers working with children between the ages of birth to five in participating counties. If you’re just learning about the WAGE$ Program, be sure to check out the program overview, F.A.Q, and learn about the results WAGE$ can provide. You’ll also find information on how to qualify and apply. Not in N.C.?
Get Started with WAGE$
Do you know if you qualify for WAGE$? We make it easy with a list of applicant requirements, information regarding participating locations and more.
Ready to apply? Use our application resources to get started.
Learn more about WAGE$ and its outcomes. See facts and figures, and read testimonials from program participants.
The Child Care WAGE$® Program is offered throughout North Carolina as a funding collaboration between local Smart Start partnerships and the Division of Child Development and Early Education. Learn more about WAGE$ funding.
The Child Care WAGE$® Program was created in response to research-based evidence that shows that the quality of care children receive is lowered by high turnover rates and inadequate teacher education.
Lack of resources and an effort to maintain affordability for parents often make it difficult for individual child care programs to reward or encourage teacher education through salaries. As a result, many teachers leave the field or never even consider the profession an option. WAGE$ is designed to provide preschool children more stable relationships with better-educated teachers by rewarding teacher education and continuity of care.
Watch the video to learn more, or download the PDF flyer.
What is the Child Care WAGE$® Program?
The Child Care WAGE$® Program provides education-based salary supplements to low paid teachers, directors and family child care educators working with children ages birth to five. The program is designed to increase retention, education and compensation. The Child Care WAGE$® Program is a funding collaboration between your local Smart Start partnership and the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE).
Who is eligible to receive a salary supplement?
Any child care professional earning at or below the income cap selected by the funding partnership may be eligible to participate. A partnership may choose one of three income cap options: $15, $17 or $19 per hour. Bonuses received from the employer will be included in calculations to determine hourly rate. The supplement recipient must work with children ages birth to five at least 10 hours per week in a licensed child care program in a participating county and must have a level of education appearing on the Child Care WAGE$® supplement scale. Partnerships may also elect not to fund administrative time, level two education or time worked in a site with fewer than three stars.
How much will I receive?
Salary supplements are tied to the recipient’s level of education, with teachers and family child care providers awarded on a different scale than directors. The awards also vary based on the tier selected by the funding partnership. Local Smart Start partnerships choose one of five different supplement models (tiers) and awards are issued accordingly. The scales show annual award amounts for full-time eligibility. Awards are issued in two six-month installments, each after the participant completes an assigned six-month commitment period in the same child care program. The amount received will reflect the schedule worked during the six-month period; supplements for part-time employees are prorated based on a 40-hour workweek. Funding partnerships may also choose to apply an additional percentage cut to supplements due to budget constraints.
What do I have to do to participate in the Child Care WAGE$® Program?
Interested child care professionals must complete an application and provide verification of (1) current employment in a participating child care program, (2) current wages and (3) education earned, as verified by an official transcript or through Early Educator Certification (EEC). If an official transcript has been submitted to EEC, it may be used to determine the WAGE$ award.
How are supplements received?
Checks 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 CCSA for each individual participant using application date, start date and education documentation. The installment is based on half of the annual award amount and reflects the schedule worked during the six-month period. All payments 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 mailed after CCSA has received the necessary funding from DCDEE. Once approved for an award, participants who remain in the same child care program and obtain the necessary education (if applicable) do not need to reapply in order to receive future installments.
See WAGE$ news below, or take a look at Results to hear more from WAGE$ participants.
- “I’m very fortunate because I am an essential worker and I’ve been working since day one, and we are lucky that no one has gotten sick,” said Melissa (Missy) Hamrick, director of Cleveland County’s Mama Lissa’s Tiny Tot University.
- According to Julie, “WAGE$ has made me feel appreciated and valued. When you feel valued, you want to stay. It is important to value dedicated teachers who want to learn all they can. I never want to stop learning.”
- The early childhood workforce has stepped up to help others work despite the risks to their own health. Many are barely holding on because they are operating at 50% capacity, which cannot sustain the child care industry. Is there a positive in all of this?