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More Frequently Asked Questions (AWARD$)
What is the Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$ program? Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$ (AWARD$) provides education-based salary supplements to low-paid early educators working full-time with children birth through age two in North Carolina. The program is designed to better compensate and retain well-educated teachers and family child care educators working with our youngest children. AWARD$ is funded by the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE).
How much will I receive?
Salary supplements are tied to the recipient’s level of education. The scale shows annual award amounts for full-time eligibility. Awards are issued in two six-month payments, each after the participant completes an assigned six-month commitment period in the same child care program.
Are family child care providers eligible? YES! As of October 1, 2019, Family child care educators who consistently provide care for at least one child birth through age two are eligible.
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 Child Care Services Association (CCSA) for each individual participant using application date, start date and education documentation. Payments are based on half of the annual award amount and 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 do not need to reapply in order to receive future payments.
How can I increase the level of the supplement I receive?
Participants in AWARD$ may increase their supplement amounts by gaining more education. The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program offers scholarships to early care and education professionals who want to earn course credits toward specific early childhood credentials or degrees. Contact the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Scholarship Program at CCSA (919-967-3272) for more information. Participants are encouraged to send AWARD$ an updated official transcript after the completion of any formal coursework so staff can determine the highest possible award.
Do I have to pay taxes on the supplement I receive?
The salary supplement is income. Participants will receive an IRS-1099 form at the end of the year if they received $600 or more from CCSA during the calendar year. Recipients are responsible for reporting and paying any personal income taxes due.
Will I receive a supplement if I move to another child care program?
Checks are issued to participants after each eligible six-month period in the same child care program. If a participant moves to another licensed child care program and works with infants, ones or twos, then the commitment period must be reset based on reapplication and the employment date at the new site. This policy is designed to encourage more stability for the children in care.
If I work in a child care center, what is the center’s responsibility?
A child care center must agree to provide verification of an applicant’s employment status and income and agree not to use participation in the program to offset normal pay increases. The center is not responsible for providing the salary supplement should funding no longer be available.
What is the Child Care WAGE$® Program and how is it different from Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$?
The Child Care WAGE$® Program (WAGE$) is an education-based salary supplement program designed to increase the retention, education and compensation of low paid teachers, directors and family child care providers working with children ages birth to five. WAGE$ is an option for all Smart Start partnerships and is available in counties that have elected to fund the program. While WAGE$ funds eligible positions working with children ages birth to five, AWARD$ only funds full-time infant-toddler educators.
What are the primary differences between the Child Care WAGE$® Program and Infant-Toddler Educator AWARD$?
Why does the AWARD$ scale start with Level 8?
The AWARD$ scale is based on the WAGE$ scale, which includes education levels below an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. WAGE$ funds those levels temporarily as participants continue their educational pursuits. AWARD$ is designed to better compensate infant-toddler teachers with the highest levels of education on the scale.
Can I participate on both AWARD$ and WAGE$ (or a local supplement program)?
Interested infant-toddler teachers may apply to participate on AWARD$, but individuals can only participate on one supplement program. If you are currently receiving WAGE$ or a local supplement and a waiting list exists for AWARD$, you may continue to be paid by your current program until funding is available for AWARD$. If your current initiative provides higher payments, consider continuing with that program. If you are unsure which supplement program is most beneficial to you, contact an AWARD$ Counselor at 919-967-3272.
My county participates on WAGE$ at Tier One. Should I apply to AWARD$?
If you are currently being paid on Tier One by WAGE$ or are on a waiting list in a Tier One county, then it may benefit you to apply to the AWARD$ program. Because AWARD$ supplements are paid at Tier Two, your supplement amount would be higher. If you are an active participant on WAGE$ and there is a waiting list for AWARD$, you may still apply to AWARD$ and continue receiving WAGE$ supplements until funding is available to move you. If you are on a WAGE$ waiting list and apply to AWARD$, your application will be moved even if there is a waiting list for AWARD$ as well. You can only be on the waiting list for one program.
My county participates on WAGE$ at Tier One Higher Education Option (HEO) or Tier Two. Should I apply to AWARD$?
Because supplement amounts for a Tier One HEO or Tier Two county are the same as provided by AWARD$, there is no financial advantage to changing programs. However, the eligibility requirements may be different. If you are unfamiliar with your county’s eligibility, please call a WAGE$ counselor at 919-967-3272. A waiting list could exist for either program, so funding availability may influence your decision.
My county participates on WAGE$ at Tier Two Higher Education Option (HEO) or Tier Three. Should I apply to AWARD$?
The supplement amounts for a Tier Two HEO or Tier Three county are higher than the Tier Two supplements provided by AWARD$. If you are an active WAGE$ participant in a Tier Two HEO or Tier Three county, you would receive a higher supplement by staying on WAGE$. However, the eligibility requirements may be different. If you are unfamiliar with your county’s eligibility, please call a WAGE$ counselor at 919-967-3272. If you are currently on a waiting list in one of these counties, and there is no waiting list for AWARD$, you may consider moving to AWARD$ with the understanding your supplement would be less.
I am over income for WAGE$. Should I apply for AWARD$?
It is possible that you may be eligible for AWARD$ if you make $18 per hour or less (including bonuses). You must also have a level of education on the AWARD$ scale, be employed in a facility with at least three stars and work at least 35 hours per week with children birth to two.