Child Care WAGE$ Iowa


  • Bonuses and Supplemental Pay


Child Care WAGE$ Iowa provides supplemental pay to early childhood educators based on their education level, quality rating level, and commitment to their early education program. WAGE$ is designed to retain and support the professional development of early education professionals; in turn, this creates a more stable workforce with the skills needed to support young children’s healthy learning and development. Bonuses range from $525 to $9,200 per educator per year, with an average annual payment of $2,462. Amounts increase as educators obtain more formal education, and educators must remain in their early education program for at least six months to qualify for an award. In FY22, Child Care WAGE$ Iowa provided supplements to 1,341 educators in 585 programs. Turnover among recipients was only 8%, much lower than the estimated 26-40% turnover rate among educators in licensed child care programs nationwide.

This program is part of the national Child Care WAGE$ project. After initially launching in select counties, it is now available statewide.


Iowa AEYC. (n.d.). Iowa WAGE$.

Iowa AEYC. (2022). T.E.A.C.H. and W.A.G.E.$ Annual Report.

Iowa AEYC. (2022). Child Care WAGE$ Iowa FY22 Results.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

The early education workforce is the foundation upon which all daily work and any expansion and quality improvement efforts rest. Research suggests that states and cities should invest in the workforce across all early education setting types, focusing on enhancing educators’ professional learning, compensation, and workplace conditions.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:

  • Early educators play a critical role in supporting the well-being of young children and families across setting types.
  • Yet their pay, benefits, and other professional supports are often inadequate in light of the job demands and their cost of living.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Iowa

Context matters. Visit the Iowa profile page to learn more about its demographics, political landscape, early education programs, early education workforce, and funding sources and streams.

Visit the Iowa Profile Here
  • The state population is 3,200,517
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 74%
  • The rural percentage is 36.8%