On July 29, 14 early educators in Giles County were recognized for their professional development and dedication and rewarded with cash stipends, thanks to the “G.I.F.T.” program.

The Giles Incentives for Teachers (G.I.F.T.) program was launched in January to reward early educators for attaining professional credentials. G.I.F.T. recognizes that developing and providing incentives for our early education workforce is the key to building high-quality full-time early education in Giles County.

In just six months G.I.F.T. is proving very effective in supporting these critical educators. The program has grown from nine to 14 participants and all the original teachers are still working at their centers. G.I.F.T. has motivated teachers to pursue professional development opportunities, including the Child Development Associate certificate (the first step in early childhood professional development).

G.I.F.T.’s twice-a-year cash incentive is critical in a profession that pays significantly less than retail or other employment. Even more important is the recognition from our community that conveys that these early educators are valued as professionals who are respected and appreciated.

G.I.F.T. is focused on licensed, full-time care and education as Giles County (and the entire NRV) has a critical shortage of the high-quality, full-time care required to sustain working families. Nurturing our early education workforce enables full-time centers to grow, families to work and ensures that young children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed.

The G.I.F.T. incentive program has also served as an inspirational model for other New River Valley localities. Pulaski is currently fundraising for a program called P.E.R.C. (Pulaski Early Educator Rewards for Credentials) to support and sustain high-quality early education in Pulaski County. G.I.F.T. and P.E.R.C. are core programs of the nonprofit Alliance for Better Childcare Strategies, that supports more availability, better quality and childcare scholarships for working families.

Through recruiting new providers, supporting existing centers and their teachers and providing scholarships for preschoolers, ABCs is enhancing the NRV’s capacity to deliver quality early education and childcare for all our young children.

For more information about G.I.F.T., P.E.R.C. or the Alliance for Better Childcare Strategies, please contact ABCs Executive Director Bethany Mott at bethanymott@abcsnrv.org or 494-7175.

Submitted by Bethany Mott

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