Early childhood teachers are receiving an increase in pay from federal and local grants totaling $600,000. The Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children has been awarded four grants to help implement a national project called the Child Care WAGES. The program rewards child care providers for their commitment and provides an incentive for them to continue formal education. Currently, the average wage for such workers is a little more than $8 an hour.
The Executive Director of the association, Barb Merrill, says the pay is too low for the importance of the job. She says quality early education is vital for the improvement of communities. “But when we use preventative measures and provide high quality services, early intervention, services for young families that they need in order to be the best families they can be, that’s when we get the most bang for our buck,” Merrill said.
Four other states are participating in the program. Bethany Davis, assistant director at Oak Academy in Des Moines, has been a part of the WAGES program. “Personally, the (program) has benefited me because I was at the top education level on the scale. So, in January, I received a stipend for $1,750. That just helped pay for the general expenses of raising my three children,” Davis said.
Child care providers who qualify will receive a 7 to 10 percent pay raise.