In an industry with low wages and labor shortages, the City of Boise’s goal is to encourage child care workers to stay in the business.
BOISE, Idaho — The City of Boise is encouraging childcare workers to stay in the field with its new Childcare Incentive Pay program.
On average, childcare workers earn about $12 an hour. Director of Community Partnerships, Kate Nelson, said this program will help supplement low wages.
Starting Aug. 1, 2,000 licensed childcare providers and workers in Boise can apply for a one-time $1,500 grant. Money for this $3-million grant comes out of the city’s $34 million American Rescue Plan funding, according to Nelson.
There are about 1,900 child care workers in Idaho. Nelson said the city made sure there was enough money to go around.
“It is really important that we indicate to childcare providers that as a city, we see them,” Nelson said. “We value the work that they provide, and we want to offer all of the support that we can.”
Since the average childcare worker earns about $24,000 a year, this incentive pay is a 6% increase, Nelson said.
Childcare worker Jennifer Meyer is in her seventh year in the industry. She said the 1,500 will not only help her cover daily expenses, but also encourage her.
“I always say tell people you’re always in this job not for the money you’re in it for the love of children,” Meyer said, “and just the money is a benefit, and that little bit is going to definitely be helpful.”
Low wages are not the only the only problem the industry faces. There are also not enough workers, which Beth Oppenheimer, Idaho Association for the Education of Young people executive director, said impacts the economy.
In a recent City of Boise survey, 90% of parents said they rely on family members to help with childcare. Of those, Nelson said 50% of parents missed work because of childcare issues.
The more childcare workers, the less strain on families.
“A lot of people think childcare, ‘Oh, that’s a family issue,’ Oppenheimer said. “But it really is an economic driver, because without it, we other businesses can’t hire and retain a workforce as well.”
The City of Boise is partnering with the Idaho Association for the Education of young children to help raise awareness about the program. Oppenheimer said healthcare providers should expect a letter in the mail explaining what the program is and how to apply.
Once applications are submitted, she said people should expect funds around November.
While some might not think $1,500 is enough, Oppenheimer said it is a good start toward creating a flourishing health care industry.
“Any extra income that they can get will really help stabilize their ability to stay in the field and make a livable wage,” Oppenheimer said.
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