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.
Child Care WAGE$® Webinar
What is the Child Care WAGE$® 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. Partnerships may choose one of three income cap options: $17, $19 or $23/hour. The supplement recipient must work with children ages birth to 5 at least 10 hours per week in a licensed child care program in a participating county and must have a level of education appearing on the Child Care WAGE$® supplement scale (see reverse for eligible education levels). Partnerships may also elect not to fund administrative time, level two education or time worked in a site with fewer than three or four stars.
How much will I receive?
The awards vary based on the tier selected by the funding partnership. Local Smart Start partnerships choose one of three 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. Funding partnerships may choose to apply a percentage cut to supplements due to budget constraints or may increase awards if funding is available.
What do I have to do to participate in the Child Care WAGE$® Program?
Interested child care professionals must complete an application and provide verification of (1) current employment in a participating child care program, (2) current wages and (3) education earned, as verified by an official transcript or through Early Educator Certification (EEC). If an official transcript has been assessed by EEC, that assessment may be used to determine the WAGE$ award. Official transcripts submitted to Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$® Plusmay also be used.
How are supplements received?
Checks are issued following commitment period completion to eligible participants who have met the requirements. Commitment periods run from mid-month to mid-month and are established by CCSA for each individual participant using application date, start date and education documentation. The installment is based on half of the annual award amount and reflects the schedule worked during the six-month period. All payments are contingent upon funding availability. Program staff must verify that participants have worked in their child care programs during the preceding six months before checks can be issued. Payments are mailed after CCSA has received the necessary funding from DCDEE. Once approved for an award, participants who remain in the same child care program and obtain the necessary education (if applicable) do not need to reapply in order to receive future installments.
See WAGE$ news below, or take a look at Results to hear more from WAGE$ participants.
“WAGE$ makes me want to keep going with my coursework. I love what I do, but there is not a lot of money in it. WAGE$ is an incentive to do it, to keep going because there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My supplement increases with more classes. Who doesn’t like getting more money for more education when that coursework also helps change your life? You have education and you have money. It is a win-win. I don’t want to lose my supplement. It’s a big incentive.”
How can we improve early childhood education? Implement a permanent solution that uses public dollars to pay teachers more.We’ve said it before. We need a way forward – a post-pandemic strategy to better compensate the child care workforce. This period of temporary increases in child care funding offers states an opportunity to provide a bridge for longer-term solutions. It is time to build the bridge between the pandemic-related supplemental federal funds for child care and the post-pandemic child care landscape upon which parents and employers will depend. Economic recovery and growth depend on it.
Supports for child care, the early childhood workforce and early childhood homelessness were on the mind of our families, early childhood providers, advocates, politicians and communities in 2021.