The quality of early care and education a child receives is directly linked to teacher quality and compensation. In Nebraska, many early educators earn less than $15/hour and would like the opportunity to build skills to improve the quality of their care. The Child Care WAGE$ NEBRASKA program provides salary supplements to early educators to address the key issues of poor compensation and high turnover in the early childhood workforce. WAGE$ supplements make the early childhood field a more affordable and attractive professional option, which reduces turnover rates.
In fiscal year 2022, WAGE$ provided salary supplements to 34 child care professionals for education accomplishments and their commitment to early childhood education. These professionals served approximately 245 children in 34 programs.
Among other 2022 highlights:
- WAGE$ recipients earned an average of $1,114 per year as a result of their participation
- Only 3% of participants left their early education programs
- 6% of WAGE$ participants were people of color and/or Latinx
- 81% said WAGE$ encouraged them to pursue further education
- 100% said receiving a WAGE$ supplement helped ease financial stress.
Must meet eligibility criteria
Providers must meet eligibility criteria to receive wage supplements, including being a licensed family child care home, earning below the income cap, working with children up to age 5 at least 35 hours weekly and being enrolled in Step Up to Quality.
LB319 includes a one-time, $10 million transfer to support WAGE$ NEBRASKA to help retain child care workers and incentivize them to further their education. Here’s a snapshot of some of Nebraska’s family home providers who have received WAGE$ supplements to enhance their child care programs.
Denita Julius started her program nearly 20 years ago and soon after began attending trainings and striving to continually improve and provide the best quality of care she could. She earned an associate degree in human services in 2016, but due to cost, put off starting a bachelor’s degree. She subsequently earned Child Development Associate (CDA) credentialing from the Nebraska Department of Education and enrolled in Step Up to Quality where she has been at Step 5, the highest rating level, since 2019, and is part of Sixpence Sprouting for Success. Denita recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Chadron State College.
I have had the pleasure of working with multiple organizations that view early childhood education as one of the most important foundation of development, just as I do. I take these classes and improve myself for me and my children.
Tammy Kresser opened her family home child care business in 2011 when her sister was struggling to find care that offered her sons the warm and loving environment she desired. Tammy earned a master’s degree in early childhood from the Erikson Institute in Chicago in 2020, and moved up on the WAGE$ scale as a result.
I’m always looking for new trainings and classes to improve my child care program. Having extra income from WAGE$ has allowed me to purchase new things for my child care and it provides funding to be able to take more classes.
Sandra Kosierowski began providing child care in her home when her children were young so she could be their primary caregiver. Even though her children are now in middle school, she’s still working as an early care and education provider.
Sandra says WAGE$ makes her feel valued and that she’s worth being well paid. The program encourages her to further her education, and she hopes to earn a master’s degree in the future. Sandra believes it’s especially important to take care of child care providers which, in turn, helps them be better able to care for children. “I hope it will be the norm for child care teachers to earn living wages and have access to benefits like paid time off and college tuition aid. WAGE$ is making great strides in turning this into reality,” she said.
WAGE$ emphasizes that early childhood education is important, not just to children and their parents, but to the community.
I love striving to be one of the best child care choices by continually improving. WAGE$ helps me improve myself and my program. I can purchase new learning tools and improve the child care environment.
Sue Wambaugh’s journey in early childhood education began in 2005 when she received a scholarship for a degree from Southeast Community College. She followed that up with a degree from UNK with an emphasis in early childhood. With the help of WAGE$, Sue was able to keep her child care program open through the pandemic and purchase much of her personal protective equipment, and also has been able to purchase new equipment to enhance the learning environment of her program.
I can’t describe what T.E.A.C.H. [scholarship program] and WAGE$ have done for my family, my child care and my self-worth as a provider. I feel like the 45 years I have dedicated to children in my care have not gone unnoticed.
Learn more about the Nebraska Association for the Education of Young Children, which administers Child Care WAGE$ NEBRASKA