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By Allison Miller, VP of Compensation Initiatives at CCSA

When any teacher working with young children graduates with her/his Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education, it is cause for celebration. But when three teachers at the same child care program accomplish this at the same time, it is even more special. Yvette Garner, Tiffany Grace Pointer and Priscilla Rowell from Excel Christian Academy (ECA) in Alamance County did just that. They didn’t let financial struggles or the impact of COVID-19 stop them from achieving their educational goals. Congratulations!

All three teachers learned about their passion for early childhood at different points in their lives. Tiffany, for example, started teaching when she was quite young. She remembers lining up her stuffed animals, who were her very first students. They all agree that being able to impact the lives of children, seeing them grow and learn, kept them motivated to continue their education and that having the support of their director was critical to their success.

Yvette shared, “My Director, Davina Woods, and the whole staff at ECA encouraged me to go back to school. They were my support team. When I first started working there, everyone was enrolled in school and taking classes whether they were online or face to face. So, I enrolled at Alamance Community College and started off with one class at a time, until I became more comfortable with it. Their support encouraged me to keep moving forward to success.”

Priscilla said, “Mrs. Woods didn’t stop with just hiring me, she also opened my eyes for me to believe in myself and move toward what I knew I should be doing. At 60 years old, I did it and I am very proud of myself. Who knows what the next move will be?”

They also acknowledge the key roles that the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program and the Child Care WAGE$® Program played in their educational journey.  According to Tiffany, she could not have obtained her degree without the scholarship assistance. “The T.E.A.C.H. scholarship has helped me by paying for my tuition and my books for school. Without them, I do not think I would have been able to get my degree,” said Tiffany.

Priscilla echoed that perspective, “There was a time when my rent was due and I needed to have work done on my car and had to make a choice of which one was more important. They both were and I didn’t know how I was going to make it work. That very day I received a check from T.E.A.C.H. All I can say was what a blessing T.E.A.C.H. was to me while I was in school and then because of me graduating, I was able to get a raise at my job. Thanks T.E.A.C.H!”

All three receive WAGE$ supplements and discuss the importance of this additional compensation. They use the supplements to meet basic needs, to catch up on bills, for car maintenance and to enhance their classrooms. Yvette also pointed out, “WAGE$ was the incentive to encourage me to keep moving forward in my degree, because each bonus I received made up for the hours missed at work.”

When COVID-19 really hit in North Carolina, many students had to make a quick transition from seated to online courses. Yvette was one of those.  She said, “I am excited to say with hard work and dedication, I was able to complete all of my classes and earned my degree.”

Priscilla completed her coursework in December, just prior to these changes. But COVID-19 took away her ability to celebrate like she had planned.  She shared, “If I had known Mrs. Corona was around the corner and was going to stop graduation, I would have celebrated in December. This lady was looking forward and was very proud to strut her stuff across the stage.”

CCSA’s WAGE$ and T.E.A.C.H. are also very proud of Yvette, Tiffany and Priscilla. We celebrate them and all the teachers who persevered through these challenging times to complete their coursework. We congratulate them on their success and thank them for the difference they make in the lives of the children and families they serve.

By Tanya Slehria, Communications Intern, and Jennifer Gioia, Communications Manager, CCSA

May 8, 2020, is National Child Care Provider Appreciation Day, a day to recognize child care providers, teachers, and other educators of young children everywhere. Join CCSA in giving thanks to those who dedicate themselves every day to educating and caring for our youngest children. Especially now during COVID-19, they deserve more than just our thanks.

Child care providers are essential workers. COVID-19 has left them to operate in extreme circumstances while providing safe and loving care to the children of other essential workers. Please consider giving to the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund launched in partnership with Smart Start to help child care programs in North Carolina either continue operating during this pandemic or be able to reopen once it’s safe again.

With your help, child care providers like Mary Lewis can continue to do what they love—teaching.

Mary[1] says “just watching children learn” is what she loves most about teaching. “Being able to adapt lesson plans on their level and teach them the way they need to learn, not the way I want to teach. Finding what works best for them on the individual level.”

Mary has been the director of the Children’s Center of First Baptist in Cary, N.C. for four years and just recently completed her Bachelor’s degree in December. “I have applied to UNC-G for the master’s program. I’m hoping to go all the way. I’m hoping to get a doctorate,” Mary said.

For Mary, her background sparked her career in early childhood education. “I grew up as a foster child and I’ve always looked for a way to advocate for children,” she said. As a director, Mary says she can “connect with [students] on all levels instead of just a few in the classroom.”

Her transition to teaching future teachers began with her desire to “see some changes in the early childhood college curriculum so [teachers] can be more prepared when we step in and be ready to go.” She says a change in curriculum can help teach future teachers “how to handle behavior issues [and] different things I feel like maybe we’re missing out on now in the current college curriculum.”

Mary’s favorite part of being a director is in her connections. “I love that I can connect with all the children, and all the families and the staff. My determination is to treat them the way I would want to be treated. I’ve worked for some directors that didn’t really care, you know. I really want to make a difference in [the staff’s] lives as much as the lives of the children, and T.E.A.C.H. allows me to do that,” Mary said.

As a participant in the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship program since 2014, Mary said, “I would never have completed three degrees without T.E.A.C.H.”

Her advice to those beginning a journey in early childhood education is, “to not settle. Not to just go get the paper [degree], but to go and get every piece of information offered by the colleges so you can really build yourself up and know you can help change the lives of children.” 

The most rewarding part of Mary’s experience is how she “can look back at the end of the day and say that I’ve accomplished this, or together we’ve accomplished this. Together, we’ve made a change.”

CCSA is grateful for child care providers like Mary for not just caring for and educating our youngest children, but for truly being the backbone of our economy. COVID-19 has shown the rest of America this, and we hope that the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund will help child care programs continue to care and educate our youngest after the pandemic. Say thanks to your child care provider and donate to the CCSA COVID-19 Relief Fund today!


[1] This interview took place in January 2020.

by the Professional Development Initiatives Team at CCSA

As Child Care Services Association (CCSA) celebrates the Week of the Young Child, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® North Carolina would like to recognize all early childhood programs that meet the needs of young children in our great state.  Early care and education teachers are essential to our communities, families and children, yet never has it been more evident than during the current world health crisis. While a number of careers have been classified as essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, early care and education teachers have been at the forefront of caring for one of the most vulnerable groups. 

As an early care and education teacher, you have made children feel safe during an uncertain time continuing to exhibit why you make a difference for young children. In 2012, The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center at CCSA launched the “I Make A Difference” campaign, and today, through adversity, the early care and education community continues to demonstrate those 10 Ways I (You) Make A Difference. You have done so by:

  1. delivering high-quality early care and education to ensure all children are ready for school and life;
  2. helping all children to gain the early language and literacy skills to prepare them for reading;
  3. modeling respectful, nurturing relationships to help all children learn to work and play well with others;
  4. promoting cognitive development by posing questions and providing developmentally appropriate materials and activities that stimulate children’s interest in pondering ideas, posing theories, formulating thoughts, growing skills to support persistence and attentiveness to solving a problem and experimenting with materials;
  5. providing rich learning environments that promote children wanting to learn new things every day;
  6. supporting children’s understanding of key mathematical concepts;
  7. creating skill development opportunities that support children’s physical health and growth, including large and fine motor development and eye-hand coordination, healthy nutrition and children’s awareness of personal health and fitness;
  8. partnering with all families around their children’s development;
  9. allowing parents to work and supporting families’ contributions to our economy; and
  10. continuing your education to ensure you know the latest research and have the resources needed to be an effective teacher.

The world has witnessed your relentless commitment to the field as an essential worker, and as a result, has enhanced the public’s education of how essential early care and education professionals are to our community. Through this, may more advocates and champions rise up to fight for better compensation and recognition of the early childhood workforce and recognize the important role teachers have in ensuring children’s well-being.

By Allison Miller, CCSA Compensation Initiatives Team

When Davina Woods was asked how she became interested in early childhood, she said, “I entered the profession as an undercover helicopter mom! I had just placed my son in child care and I couldn’t stand not being there and seeing what and how he was doing.”

Her child’s center hired her as a part-time school-age group leader before she eventually found her calling with young children and their teachers. 

She started with no education and now she is in the master’s program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with the assistance of a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® scholarship. After 25 years in the field, she loves her position as director of Excel Christian Academy, a five-star child care center in Alamance County, where she has been for 13 years.

“It has been a privilege to work in every single aspect of child care,” Davina said. “In every classroom, with every age group, in every position. I have fulfilled every duty from cook to van driver and it gives me perspective and appreciation. I love this viewpoint. I get the luxury of working with children, families and teachers.” 

Davina’s center prioritizes its teachers by providing a livable wage as well as other key benefits, which she knows most teachers are unable to access in this field. “And then they get WAGE$ and T.E.A.C.H. on top of that,” she said.

The Child Care WAGE$® (WAGE$) 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. The program is designed to provide preschool children more stable relationships with better-educated teachers by rewarding teacher education and continuity of care.

The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship (T.E.A.C.H.) Program addresses under-education, poor compensation and high turnover within the early childhood workforce by providing educational scholarships to early care professionals and those who perform specialized functions in the early care system.

“WAGE$ and T.E.A.C.H. are just part of who we are, part of the center’s make-up,” Davina said. “It is essential, imperative, to have an educated staff, especially here in the 21st century where children are not changing but the modes and methods of educating children are constantly evolving. Teachers must know best practices and know how to utilize the latest research and incorporate that into classrooms for the best outcomes for children.”

According to Davina, “WAGE$ is essential because it helps to boost teacher morale within the program. WAGE$ both encourages and motivates staff to increase their education. Additionally, WAGE$ provides a sense of healthy competition among team members as they see who can achieve the next level first.”

She said, “My teachers talk about the courses they take and they drive each other.” Three of her staff will graduate in December with their associate degree in early childhood education and they remind Davina of why she does what she does. “If I take great care of my team, they will take great care of the children.”

Thank you, Davina, for your support of the workforce and the Child Care WAGE$® Program.

Learn more about the Child Care WAGE$® Program here.

Learn more about the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship (T.E.A.C.H.) Program here.

By Tanya Slehria, Spring Communications Intern at CCSA

Tracy Pace’s favorite part of being an early childhood educator is “being there, being able to be an advocate for [children’s] success and being willing to listen and try to help parents reach out, find the resources [they need] and gain new skills.”

Tracy wears many hats in her role as a lead teacher at Nanna’s & Momma’s Child Care Center in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina. “And my title kind of switches from day-to-day,” Tracy said. “It depends. I’m a very flexible person, but the majority of my time is used either as teaching in a classroom or in the office as an executive assistant.” 

After high school, Tracy said, “I decided to get married instead of go to school…my husband and I were married for 5 years and our first child came along…We didn’t want them to do the same thing we’ve done. We wanted [them] to try to be smarter than that. So, we both had enrolled in school…Our second child came along and I just piddled here and there and did a class. So, it took me 26 years to get my associate’s degree and I’ve just done that this July [2019]” from Blue Ridge Community College.

Tracy’s educational journey may be filled with twists and turns, yet her commitment to education and early childhood education has remained consistent throughout her 30-plus years in the field. While working toward her degree, she was still supporting her family of four children as well. 

After graduating, Tracy enrolled in Brevard College. It was through her persistence and encouragement that they began offering a birth-to-kindergarten program and an education program for students to receive teaching licenses. She continued to pave her own path, and as she told Brevard, “I’d love to [enroll with] the T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship.” At the time, Brevard was not participating with CCSA’s T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program, but Tracy’s determination led them to offer the scholarship. “So, in 10 classes, I’ll have my Bachelor’s degree,” Tracy said.

Tracy’s involvement with T.E.A.C.H. began with her work at Nanna’s & Momma’s where she became a Child Care WAGE$® recipient. At the time, she was her mother’s full-time caregiver, a full-time student, a full-time employee and a full-time mother. She credits her ability to keep up with it all to the WAGE$ supplement.

“The [WAGE$] supplement has allowed me not to have [a second job] and to help me manage all these other different things, as first of all, a wife and mother, and second of all, someone who wants to give back to their community. Without [WAGE$], it wouldn’t have been possible,” said Tracy. 

Tracy is as dedicated a teacher as she is a student. Her goal has always been to teach. Teaching “fits my family’s needs,” said Tracy.

Before her time in the classroom, Tracy worked as the assistant director for the Brevard Davidson River Presbyterian Church and was involved with various organizations. Her position helped her form a network of connections that serve as a benefit to her current role as an educator. “I think community resources is my biggest strength—those connections outside of this job and those I made before I got into this current job,” said Tracy. “I know people to call by name at the Social Services office. I would say that’s one of the biggest things for teachers, in general, is being able to know and have a list of those resources and know people by name.” 

Tracy attributes her teaching style to her community. “I’ve grown a lot and become a lot more flexible as I understand and continue to try to edge out a living in the community that I’ve worked and raised my kids in and [one that] they would love to come back to,” she said. She also credits her passion for reading, “which has given me an understanding and [ability to find] solutions, or things I can try, and that not all kids are the same.”

“We know everything we need to know before we’re age 5. That’s the point and most people miss that. They think we’re not anything until we’re 5 and go to kindergarten, but every child learns all their coping skills, their ability to receive and give information before the age of 5,” said Tracy.

By Tomonica Rice-Yarborough and Kathy Thornton from CCSA’s Professional Development Initiatives Team

World Teacher’s Day was established in 1994 to recognize and celebrate teachers all over the world for their hard work and dedication. It also brings to light the issues affecting the profession to work toward a resolution for retaining and attracting teachers to the field. This day was founded to celebrate public school teachers, but early care educators also should be recognized on this day because they’re instrumental to the growth and development of our children. Their contributions to society’s economic stability should be valued, recognized and celebrated.

One of the main issues facing early care educators is the little recognition or validation they receive for the pivotal roles they play in the lives and development of young children. As a field, early educators in North Carolina often hold degrees, but they earn significantly less than public school teachers. According to CCSA’s 2015 North Carolina Child Care Workforce Study, the median wage of center directors in North Carolina was $16.00 per hour, while teachers earned $10.97 per hour and assistant teachers earned $9.97 per hour. 

Although degree attainment has drastically increased in North Carolina, the field as a whole still suffers from being perceived as a high priced “babysitting service.” For 30 years, the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program has provided the workforce with access to a debt-free college education while they work as low wage earners teaching future doctors, lawyers, teachers, administrative assistants, scientists…

Our brains grow faster between the ages of birth and 3 than any other time in our life. Children who are formally cared for in early education settings outside of their homes depend on the early educator to support their developmental growth. Those years are particularly formative, making the role of the early educator even more critical. According to philosopher John Locke, “a child’s mind is a blank slate waiting to be filled with knowledge.” Early educators play a big part in setting the foundation for our children’s future.

On Sept. 4, 2019, Australia celebrated Early Childhood Educators’ Day to honor and appreciate early childhood educators. The world, like Australia, should have a day set aside to recognize early childhood educators. Sadly, early childhood educators are seldom during the World Teacher’s Day observance. This lends credence to the perception that early childhood education isn’t seen as a worthy profession. Why can’t we dedicate a day of observance to them?

Early education workforce initiatives in North Carolina such as the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program, the Child Care WAGE$® and the Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$ salary supplement programs and NAEYC’s Power to the Profession are aimed at professionalizing the early care and education field so its members receive the respect, recognition and compensation they so rightly deserve.

By Jennifer Gioia, CCSA Communications Manager

Joe Coffey will earn his Master’s in Education (M.Ed.) from UNC-Wilmington next spring, and because of the Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) Early Childhood® Scholarship program, he will do so debt-free. T.E.A.C.H. provides educational scholarships to early care professionals and those who perform specialized functions in the early care system.

Joe has had the desire to teach and engage families and children for 18 years serving as a preschool teacher, kindergarten teacher, public school administrator and training and technical assistance specialist. Now, while he pursues his M.Ed., he is the Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) Program Director for Onslow County Partnership for Children in North Carolina.

“I am a true believer in lifelong learning. I also feel it is our responsibility to model life-long learning for those that we serve,” Joe said. “I originally became familiar with the T.E.A.C.H. program when I was completing my associate’s degree. Fellow students shared the information with me.”

What is T.E.A.C.H.?

In 1990, Child Care Services Association (CCSA) created the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship program to address the issues of under-education, poor compensation and high turnover in the early childhood workforce. In 2000, the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center was established in response to the growth and expansion of the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center is now offered in 22 states plus D.C. and has awarded over 150,000 scholarships since its opening.

T.E.A.C.H. is an umbrella for a variety of scholarship programs for those working in early education in North Carolina. Because of the complexities of the different scholarships, each recipient is assigned a specific scholarship counselor.

T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship Counselors

Kimberly Bynum

Kimberly Bynum, who has been with CCSA for 22 years, is the program manager for T.E.A.C.H. North Carolina. One of her main duties is to provide counseling to graduate-level scholarship recipients like Joe. Those counselors are the reason Joe can say, “The process has been easy to use and to understand.”

“Joe is a great recipient to work with,” Kimberly said. “There’s not a lot of hand holding to do with him. He’s really proactive, but if there is ever anything missing, like when we do check-ins with our recipients several times throughout the semester, he’s very responsive to getting me what I need.”

Counselors play a vital role for T.E.A.C.H. scholarship recipients, helping them navigate through the many obstacles they may face while furthering their education.

“I do the same thing for Joe as I do for all my recipients. I make sure if they’re enrolled in school, we have the documents we need to go ahead and pay for their tuition upfront, because we don’t want anybody dropped…I usually go through and look at all my recipients, including Joe, to make sure we sent in the authorization to the colleges and universities,” said Kimberly.

And because of T.E.A.C.H., Joe will be able to graduate with his M.Ed. debt-free.

“T.E.A.C.H. has made it possible for me to continually build on my education from an Associate’s in Applied Science to a Master’s in Education without incurring a huge amount of student debt,” said Joe. “Early childhood education is a field in which the professionals are often underpaid and are themselves lacking resources. T.E.A.C.H. provides an avenue to advance education and careers while helping to avoid massive student debt.”

Kimberly finds her part in that process gratifying.

“What I really enjoy most about my position is…developing that one-on-one relationship [with the recipients],” she said. “It really just brings it all together when you’re at a conference or…attending graduations and you get to meet that person face-to-face…Especially at graduation, it makes you feel really proud, because you work with these people for so long, so they made it and they’re done.”

The Economic Impact of T.E.A.C.H.

Kimberly is also proud that T.E.A.C.H. has a wide reach that goes well beyond the scholarship recipient after graduation.

“We are empowering these scholarship recipients to [earn] more education, which in turn, they bring back into their facility, they’re better equipped to teach the children and then the children are ready for school when they start kindergarten.”

Once recipients complete their degree, they increase their marketability in the early childhood education system and may experience growth in their wages as well. In 2018, associate degree scholarship program recipients experienced an 11% increase in their earnings, with a low turnover rate of 8%.

“In addition, it’s increasing the star rating level as far as education goes for those facilities they’re employed in, making them more attractive to families, so increasing business that way,” Kimberly said. “Also, what [T.E.A.C.H.] does in the community…is increase the student enrollment in early childhood education departments [at participating universities and colleges]. So by T.E.A.C.H. sponsoring students at these universities and colleges, there is a positive economic impact on the North Carolina college system.”

To continue supporting the operations of Child Care Services Association and crucial programs such as T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®️ Scholarship North Carolina, please consider donating today.

Written by Edith Locke, CCSA Professional Development Team

The month of May signals the season for commencement exercises at colleges and universities nationwide. As students walk proudly across the stage in cap and gown, triumphantly moving the tassel on their mortarboard to symbolize academic achievement, it is important to recognize degree attainment roadblocks that the early care and education (ECE) field face.

Why are early educators more deserving of special acknowledgment for degree completion than other non-traditional, working students?

First, one should consider the shared traits of this workforce with college non-completers. The ECE workforce, much like the college non-completer, typically has dependent children, low income, works full-time, attends college part-time and is financially independent from parents.

Despite how closely they mirror college non-completers, degree attainment is not impossible. The 2015 Working in Early Care and Education in North Carolina Study reported 63 percent of teachers had a college degree. Additionally, 17 percent of teachers were taking courses in the ECE field with 60 percent of them working towards an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Unfortunately, degree attainment rarely means significant compensation gains. The median wage for ECE teachers was $10.46 compared to $17.61 starting wage of public school teachers in North Carolina.  Additionally, over 70 percent of the workforce’s household income was below the $46,784 North Carolina median household income. Moreover, 39 percent of teachers received some public assistance in the previous three years.

It is commendable the ECE workforce makes educational advancements despite challenges.

Workforce supports, such as the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® scholarship and Child Care WAGE$® salary supplement programs that help early educators access formal education and reward their retention, are crucial. Research shows degrees are linked to quality care, and maternal education has been linked to better child outcomes. Therefore, support for degree attainment in the ECE field should remain a priority.

Jennifer Gioia, Communications Manager of Child Care Services Association

Carolina Demography Releases Info about North Carolina’s Leaky Education Pipeline, T.E.A.C.H. NC Can Help to Seal the Gaps

Carolina Demography at the Carolina Population Center at UNC-Chapel Hill has been slowly trickling information about North Carolina’s Leaky Education Pipeline since last month. Robert Kinlaw at EdNC writes, “Most people in North Carolina don’t have any education beyond high school. That’s a big problem for the state’s workforce. If we think about the path to higher education as a pipeline, we can find the ‘leaks’ where students often fall out of their journey to a degree or credential.”

“The fastest-growing sectors of North Carolina’s economy demand employees with increasingly higher levels of educational attainment. By 2020, an estimated 67% of all jobs in North Carolina will require some education and training beyond high school. Today, 47% of North Carolina’s 5.3 million working-age adults (25-64 years old) have a postsecondary degree or nondegree credential,” writes Rebecca Tippett, Director of the Carolina Demography, and Jessica Stanford, Demographic Analyst of the Carolina Demography.

“Educational attainment is part of a decades-long process. It is the sum of educational experiences and exposures that begin at birth and continue well into adulthood. Overall pipeline completion—measured here as the timely completion of a postsecondary degree—is the cumulative result of success across multiple transition points in K-12 and postsecondary. Each transition point offers an opportunity for intervention to improve educational outcomes for individuals and North Carolina as a whole” (North Carolina’s Education Pipeline).

Tippett and Stanford suggest “Students currently in the state’s K-12 system represent the largest potential opportunity for North Carolina to move towards 60%” by 2030. However, let us not forget the largest potential opportunity for North Carolina is also in its youngest children—birth-5 years old—and those in the early childhood care and education workforce.

Potential in North Carolina’s Birth-5 Years Old

In many important ways, our preschool years determine our future competitive role in the global economy, the public safety of our communities, the cost-effective investment of public and private dollars and the success of welfare reform. Current research has shown that the early years (ages birth-5) are the most sensitive for brain development. More than 90% of brain growth occurs during this period. The people who help care for a child are also those who help shape a child’s mind. Studies show that children who receive quality child care enter school with better math, language and social skills. These skills give children a good start to succeed in school and in life.

To ensure North Carolina’s youngest children have access to affordable, high-quality child care, we must also focus on the teachers and providers who care for and educate birth-5 year olds. For many educators, barriers such as low wages, having children of their own, working full time and/or being a person of color stand in the way of furthering their education. “If we are to meet the demands of tomorrow’s job market, all North Carolinians must be able to realize the promise of education, particularly nontraditional students, minority and low-income students, rural students, and others who are disproportionately affected by challenges associated with postsecondary access and completion” (Tippett and Stanford).

Potential in North Carolina’s Early Childhood Workforce

The Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) Early Childhood® North Carolina Scholarship program takes on the issues facing many early childhood educators—under-education, low compensation and high turnover rates—by offering professional development opportunities for early childhood educators in North Carolina. As they complete coursework along a degree pathway, participants increase their marketability in the early childhood education system and experience incremental growth in their wages as well.

Nearly 49% of teachers working toward a bachelor’s degree through T.E.A.C.H. NC said they were not considering furthering their education before they heard about T.E.A.C.H. In fiscal year 2018, T.E.A.C.H. scholarship recipients were enrolled in 55 of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges, as well as in 12 state-supported universities and four private colleges. T.E.A.C.H. NC scholarships give them significant financial support and an experienced counselor to help them navigate the obstacles they may face in their personal life, career or in the higher education system.

“A highly trained workforce is a key driver of economic growth. Employers are drawn to regions where they can easily hire and retain skilled employees, and communities benefit substantially when new industries move to town or existing companies grow. More-educated workers are less likely to be unemployed and more likely to earn higher family-supporting wages. In addition, increased educational attainment is a powerful predictor of adult well-being, including better physical and mental health outcomes, more stable relationships, and greater civic knowledge and engagement. Adults’ educational attainment is also a key predictor of their children’s own level of education and wages” (Tippett and Stanford).

T.E.A.C.H. scholarship recipients represent the ethnic diversity of the children in North Carolina. Compared to 47% of the early care and education workforce statewide, nearly 50% of T.E.A.C.H. scholarship recipients are people of color. Recognizing the diverse educational backgrounds of the early childhood workforce, T.E.A.C.H. NC offers scholarship programs ranging from those appropriate for early childhood educators with no formal education beyond high school to scholarships that help degreed teachers earn their Birth-Kindergarten License or an Early Childhood Leadership Master’s Degree.

Since 2011, just over 37% of T.E.A.C.H. NC Associate Degree recipients are first generation students, meaning they do not have a parent or sibling who has attended college. Of those first generation students 58.5% came to T.E.A.C.H. with only a HS diploma/GED and 75.5% indicated their educational goal was to complete a degree. Since 2011, 33.3% of Bachelor Degree recipients are first generation students and of those first generation students, 93% indicated their educational goal was to complete a Bachelor or higher degree. From 2016-2018, 43% of associate in applied science degrees (specifically in early childhood education) and 66% of bachelor of arts degrees of T.E.A.C.H. NC recipients were first generation students.

In fiscal year 2018, 2,106 people participated in T.E.A.C.H. NC, with 141 associates degree graduates (up from 77 in fiscal year 2017), 32 bachelor’s degree graduates (up from 25 in fiscal year 2017) and 17 master’s in education degree graduates. Those educators completed nearly 13,000 credit hours at 71 higher education institutions, and ultimately, the end goal—improving the education and care they give children—was served for more than 57,543 children in North Carolina.

Just as Tippett and Stanford said, “Rather than rely on attracting highly educated individuals from other states and countries to increase our state’s attainment, we can strengthen our ability to cultivate our own talent,” and T.E.A.C.H. NC helps to cultivate talent among North Carolinians from birth-5 and in the early childhood education workforce.

About T.E.A.C.H. NC:

The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® North Carolina Scholarship Program is an umbrella for a variety of different scholarship programs for those working in the early education field in North Carolina. Based on the partnership principle that requires support from the employing sponsoring program, T.E.A.C.H. scholarships are configured with five essential components: scholarship, education, compensation, commitment and counseling support. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® North Carolina Scholarship program is offered statewide and partners with the state’s higher education system to provide educational scholarship opportunities for early educators including those teaching in NCPK classrooms and infant toddler educators caring for children ages 0-2  in licensed facilities. Additionally, unique scholarship programs are available for system specialists within the early care and education system. Typically, comprehensive, core scholarships provide significant financial  support for the following costs: in-state tuition, books, travel and if applicable, release time. Most importantly, all comprehensive scholarships mandate an award incentive for participants who successfully complete an annually specified number of semester credits. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® North Carolina Scholarship program is administered by Child Care Services Association. For more information, visit www.childcareservices.org/teach-nc.

About Child Care Services Association:

Founded in 1974, Child Care Services Association’s mission is to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality child care for all young children and their families. Using a holistic approach, Child Care Services Association (CCSA) supports children and families, helps child care professionals improve the quality of early education children receive and ensures that all families can afford and access the high-quality early care and education that is so important for a child’s early development. Through its Meal Services Program, CCSA also provides nutritious meals to children at child care centers, where they may eat 50-100 percent of their meals. Our T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®, Child Care WAGE$® and Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$® programs give child care professionals the means to obtain an education and supplement their salary based on that education. CCSA also licenses T.E.A.C.H. and WAGE$ across the U.S. and conducts early childhood systems research and policy development statewide and nationally. For more information, visit www.childcareservices.org.

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