Early Educator Rewards
As our teachers thrive, our children thrive too!
Supporting Our Early Education Teachers is Key to Quality Childcare
Availability and quality in early education depends on one foundation – teachers who earn enough to be able to support themselves to stay in childcare and can benefit financially from education and professional development. ABCs and Virginia Quality are working together to address the need for communities to truly support their early education teachers for the teachers' sake, the children in our hands' sake, and for the overall well-being of the communities in which we live, work, and play.
Why Teachers Are Important
We know that both intelligence and social skills are essential for a successful life and develop in the first 2000 days of life. More than one million new neural connections are formed every second during a child’s first 2000 days of life. Quality interactions with teachers are a key to supporting cognitive and emotional development.
How the Teacher Rewards Program Works
Teachers in full-time licensed early childcare centers under this program (also known as a "stipend") are paid twice-yearly income supplements based on educational attainment and professional development. There are multiple benefits from this program:
Reward teachers as they pursue professional development through credentialing, certification programs, and post-secondary education
Attract, develop, and retain early educators
Increase enrollment and graduation in certificate programs at New River Community College and other colleges/universities.
Increase participation in Virginia Quality (Virginia’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system)
Improve childcare quality through teacher education and reduced turnover
Pilot Programs Designed to Have Long-Term Impact
In Giles County: "GIFT" - Giles Incentives for Teachers
In 2018, a two-year pilot program was developed in Giles County. Teachers in two daycare centers enrolled in GIFT will receive financial rewards as they attain increased credentials or higher education in their field. Funding for GIFT was made possible by a generous donor who wanted to make a positive impact on early education in Giles County. ABCs took that donor's passion and financial asset and, in partnership with Virginia Quality, created the rewards program, knowing that it would have great impact on quality education and childcare for the benefit of children ages infant - 5 years old. GIFT is already making a difference in the lives of these Giles County teachers!
In Pulaski County: "PERC" - Pulaski early Educators Rewards for Credentials
Efforts are underway to replicate the GIFT pilot program in Pulaski County. PERC is also a two-year pilot program which is in the fund-raising phase as of 2019. The goal is to have the rewards program fully operational beginning in 2020-21 so that the children in Pulaski County's full-time licensed centers will be served by talented teachers who have the financial incentive and are committed to pursuing professional development through credentialing and educational achievements. Pulaski is a childcare desert with less than 10% of the children ages 0-5 having access to quality early education and childcare partly due to the lack of teachers and employee turnover. The teacher rewards program infuses outside financial support to centers in their teacher compensation, enhancing professionalism and quality of early childhood education. It's a "win-win!"
As evidence-based outcomes are gathered on the impact of these rewards programs, ABCs will address the need for state-wide funding for early education teacher rewards for credentials. This would enable localities to use precious donor financial support for other much-needed strategies for improving access and affordability for quality childcare and early education in the New River Valley.