In 2019, Virginia created the Teacher Recognition Program (now RecognizeB5) to promote the retention and financial well-being of early educators across the state. Through this program, teachers working at least 30 hours per week in public-school or community-based settings serving children birth to age five could receive a payment of $1,500 if they remained in their program for at least 8 months. Educators in all Virginia counties were eligible to participate in the program, but in the state’s most populous county, Fairfax County, there were not enough funds to provide a payment to all teachers. This created an opportunity for researchers from the University of Virginia to study the impact of a bonus program on teacher retention and well-being. Using a randomized controlled trial, researchers learned that the bonuses did in fact reduce turnover and increase financial well-being among participating educators. The bonuses cut turnover among educators in child care centers in half, from 30% to 15%, and nearly all educators (98%) reported that the funds helped them meet personal or family needs. The program has since expanded; it provided educators with $3,000 bonuses during the 2022–23 school year.
Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. (2022). RecognizeB5 Overview.
Bassok, D., Doromal, J., Michie, M., & Wong, V. C. (2021). The Effects of Financial Incentives on Teacher Turnover in Early Childhood Settings: Experimental Evidence from Virginia.
Bassok, D., Shapiro, A., Michie, M., & Fares, I. (2021). The Importance of Financial Supports for Child Care Teachers during the Pandemic: New Findings from Virginia.
Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:
Learn More about 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.