Some of you may have already heard about the Step Up to WAGE$ Arkansas program which will be launched this fall. We have received lots of calls so far. For those of you who do not know what it is, Step Up to WAGE$ is a stipend-based wage supplement plan that pays child care staff who have completed six months of continuous employment with the same facility a semi-annual stipend. The amount of the stipend is based on the current level of credit hours in Birth to 5 education–from national CDA to the various higher education degrees.

The Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education has authorized AECA to use a portion of the $40 million appropriation from American Rescue Plan Act that we are using for T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood to implement Step Up to WAGE$ in Arkansas. While the current funding source for Step Up to WAGE$ is temporary, it is our hope it will provide relief to the situation many providers find themselves in when trying to pay their teachers decent wages. While AECA does not hold this program out as a permanent solution, we believe it is important for us to act now on the issue of early childhood compensation even if it is with temporary funding. This program is open to all licensed providers–not just T.E.A.C.H. participants.

The Step Up to WAGE$ program has lots of moving pieces that must be in place before stipends can be paid. To familiarize directors and administrators with this program, AECA will be offering information sessions in various formats to our state’s providers. If you are interested in this program for your staff, we hope you will be able to attend one of these sessions to learn more and get your questions answered.

If you plan to attend, we need you to register in advance. You can access the list of information sessions and registration instructions for each by downloading this document:

Step Up to WAGES Info Sessions.docx

These are only some of the sessions offered—we will continue to schedule regional and online information sessions into the fall.

If you have questions, you can call the AECA office at 501-680-1930 OR email Program Manager Laura House at

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