The WAGE$ program was initially piloted in the city of Chattanooga. Over a six-month period, beginning April 2019, $75,000 in supplements went to 73 early childhood educators from 29 child care centers.
Because of the program's success locally, the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) expanded WAGE$ statewide. As of September 2023, WAGE$ has given out over $12,000,000 in salary supplements to over 3,000 educators across Tennessee.
Child Care WAGE$® Tennessee is dedicated to supporting early childhood educators by providing financial incentives linked to their education and consistent employment.
This not only enhances teacher retention but also ensures children benefit from stable relationships and highly qualified educators. WAGE$ prioritizes individual professional growth without impacting program budgets, regular wages, or parent fees in child care facilities.
Child Care WAGE$® Tennessee is licensed by the Child Care Services Association in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and is made possible through a collaboration with Signal Centers and TDHS.
Signal Centers is a Chattanooga nonprofit focusing on promoting self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities, the early childhood workforce, and young families.
Educators give WAGE$ a gold star
We have a waitlist of around 200 children. It is really hard to tell those families "No" because we don't have the space or staffing capacity. I feel like WAGE$ is a really great recruitment tool for staff. It also gives them an incentive to continue their education and go forth with those dreams they may not have been able to do on their own.
Wages was important for me because it allowed me to give more to the staff. I’ve got teachers that have their bachelors’, and they get over $2,000. That is a very big thing for them—it always seems to come at a time when they really need it.
Having this little extra money is the difference of working a second job and having my focus 100% on the kids here and not worrying about supplementing my income by working at multiple different jobs.
Meet the WAGE$ team
We care about supporting educators because we have all been one at one time or another. Together, we have over
70 years of experience in early childhood education.
Chief Officer of Statewide Initiatives; Director, Child Care Resource & Referral Network
Marketing and Communications Strategist
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Lean Into You
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