Minnesota: R.E.E.T.A.I.N. Bonus Program
Sep 18, 2012
Minnesota\'s Retaining Early Educators Through Attaining Incentives Now (R.E.E.T.A.I.N.) bonus program encourages and rewards well-trained child care professionals who stay in the field by awarding them with a monetary bonus. Each year, the program rewards child care professionals who have demonstrated a commitment to their continuing education and professional development within the child care field and have earned an early childhood degree or credential. Minnesota\'s Child Care Resource and Referral agency (CCR&R) awards R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonuses to both center-based child care providers and family child care providers. Through a competitive application process, providers apply for a bonus, which ranges in value from $1,000 to $3,500 and can be used to cover program or personal expenses. The program earmarks a portion of funding to provide bonuses for infant/toddler providers.
Since 2004, the R.E.E.T.A.I.N. program has recognized the importance of offering incentives to child care providers as encouragement to stay and advance in the profession. Modeled after North Carolina\'s WAGE$ program, which provides salary supplements to low-wage teachers, directors, and family child care providers, R.E.E.T.A.I.N. was instituted by incorporating the program into Minnesota\'s CCR&R contract with the state\'s Department of Human Services. Their current two-year contract includes approximately $400,000 for R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonuses. However, since the beginning of the program, funds for bonuses have declined each year. Funding for the bonuses comes primarily from the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).
Each application cycle, the number of bonuses given out depends on how much funding is available. On average, 80 bonuses per year are awarded, split between family child care providers and center-based child care providers. These numbers have decreased as the funds have dwindled. In 2006, 152 awards were given out; in 2012, 84 awards were distributed. Since the summer of 2005, when Minnesota\'s CCR&R started collecting data on these awards, 480 providers have received a R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonus.
In order to qualify for a R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonus, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Licensed to provide child care or work for a licensed child care program
- Work at least 30 hours per week directly with same one or two groups of children
- Have been working in their current position for at least one year
- Have earned a National Child Development Associate Credential, Associate Degree, Bachelor\'s or Master\'s degree
- Are willing to commit to staying in their position for one year.
Bonuses are determined solely on the level of education completed with the highest award going to providers with graduate degrees. The program is highly competitive with 30 - 35 percent of applicants receiving a bonus in a given application cycle.
Providers are eligible to receive the R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonus more than once; as of 2010, R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonus recipients must wait two years before they are able to re-apply for another R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonus. Since the implementation of this rule, the bonus program has helped more child care professionals receive awards. Each year more new applicants apply. In 2011, 30 percent of applications were providers who had not previously received a R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonus.
R.E.E.T.A.I.N. Rating System
To determine which child care providers will receive a bonus, the R.E.E.T.A.I.N. program uses a point system to rate applicants. The rating system is divided into five categories, including: how long a provider has worked in a child care program, wages, level of education, training, and leadership roles. Within each category applicants are awarded a number of points based on their qualifications and activities.
More points are awarded for the longer a child care provider has worked in a child care program, with 11 years or more earning a maximum 10 points. Infant and toddler caregivers also are prioritized by earning an extra two points in the rating system. The smaller a child care professional\'s wages, the more points they are awarded. For center-based care, an hourly wage of $7.00 or less earns applicants as many as 10 points. For family child care providers, yearly earnings determine the number of points received with a maximum of 10 points awarded for earnings of $10,000 or less during a year. An applicant also earns more points for having obtained higher education; a Bachelor\'s or Master\'s degree in Early Childhood or elementary education earns applicants the highest number of points (10) whereas any degree in an unrelated field earns the applicant the fewest points (2). Completion of credit-based training and professional development also provide applicants with points. As the program has evolved, the type of activity that counts as training has become more specific with the intention of encouraging child care providers to take more substantive trainings. The more hours an applicant spends in training, the more points they earn. For 32 hours or more of training/continued education, the applicant earns the maximum number of points (8). Applicants earn 2 -6 points for leadership roles they assume, such as acting as a mentor, consultant, or trainer. As an advantage for first-time awardees, applicants get one point deducted for having already received a R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonus. Awarding points for leadership roles was an addition to the original rating system.
Infant/Toddler Set Aside
The R.E.E.T.A.I.N. program requires at least 25 percent of funds to be awarded to infant/toddler providers. Minnesota recognized a strong need within the state for skilled providers who care for infants and toddlers, which led the state to create this provision. Of the 468 providers who have received bonuses, 330 of them care for infants and toddlers, or 71 percent of all R.E.E.T.A.I.N. recipients.
Minnesota\'s CCR&R has received positive feedback from child care professionals about the R.E.E.T.A.I.N. program, noting that several have said they have stayed in the child care field because of the bonuses and that these awards help validate their work as early childhood professionals. R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonuses have also highlighted the importance of substantive professional development and encouraged providers to take part in more online learning programs, pursue college credits, and series-based trainings. In Minnesota\'s experience, the bonuses have helped retain child care professionals within the field and support highly skilled infant/toddler caregivers.
Grants & Scholarships Coordinator
Minnesota Child Care Resource & Referral Network