(Media release from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning):
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is offering wage supplements of $1,000 to members of the early care and education workforce who are attaining higher education credentials. Known as POWER-ED for Providing Our Workforce Essential Recognition for Educational Development, the supplements are designed to assist Georgia’s child care industry in attracting and retaining new employees at a time when they are needed most. The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
The POWER-ED wage supplements are available to all employees approved through the DECAL Scholars SCHOLARSHIPS Program, Georgia’s statewide educational assistance program for early care and education professionals pursuing credentials or degrees in early childhood education or child development. DECAL Scholars already offers financial assistance for anyone attaining a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential through a master’s degree.
“Since 2021, DECAL has paid out three installments of POWER payments (Providing Our Workforce Essential Recognition) totaling close to $115 million from ARPA,” said Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs.
“That’s 115,000 individual payments of $1,000 to early learning professionals here in Georgia. Now we are repurposing POWER payments and making some changes to DECAL Scholars to increase access to degrees and credentials for those working in child care at a time when they need it most,” she explained.
DECAL Scholars also offers INCENTIVES, an annual salary bonus program that rewards tenure (the length of time an early care and education professional stays at one job) and earning an ECE credential within the last 5 years. Professionals who have earned an ECE credential in the last five years and have maintained employment with the same employer may be eligible to receive an annual INCENTIVES payment.
“We are very proud of our longstanding DECAL Scholars Program, which has served early care and education professionals for 27 years,” said Deputy Commissioner for Georgia’s Pre-K Program and Instructional Supports Susan Adams. “We are hopeful the recent updates to DECAL Scholars, along with the addition of POWER-ED, will allow us to continue to provide needed financial supports to professionals as they continue along their career pathways in early childhood education.”