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Financial Rewards for Committed Professionals

REETAIN Bonuses help supplement income for early childhood educators as they work to establish a career in the field. REETAIN Bonuses can be used for program supplies, professional development, or personal expenses. In fiscal year 2022-23, 503 early educators received a bonus.

REETAIN strives to include educators equitably according to the Child Care Aware of Minnesota mission statement.


We offer two REETAIN Bonus application periods: one for center-based educators and one for family child care educators. Bonuses are awarded annually and range from $500 - $3,000. They can be used to cover professional or personal expenses. REETAIN Bonuses are awarded based on education and according to state/federal priorities, as funds allow. Awardees receive half of their bonuses upon being awarded and half after six months.


Applicants must:

  • Be licensed to provide child care in Minnesota or work for a licensed Minnesota child care program for at least one year prior to the first day of the application (April 1 for center staff and October 1 for family child care).
  • Continue to work in a licensed Minnesota child care program directly with children at least 30 hours per week (or 1,560 hours per year) for one year (June 1 through May 31 for center staff and December 1 through November 30 for family child care) after receiving a bonus.
  • Have an hourly wage of $25/hour or less (center staff only).
  • NOT be a current T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship recipient.

Applicants must provide a Develop DHS Licensing Learning Record, which must include the following information:

  • A current Develop membership with expiration date and accurate, up-to-date information.
  • Verified employment as a Teacher, Assistant Teacher, Primary Care Provider, or Aide working directly with children at least 30 hours per week (or 1,560 hours per year) in a Minnesota licensed child care program. “Yes” must appear in the verified column.
  • Current position start date is at least one year before the first day of the application period.
  • A Career Lattice Step of 6 or higher, or a Career Lattice Step of 5 with completion of MNCDA or MNITCDA learning community.

Read the all the information on the REETAIN Bonus webpage tabs and watch the recorded information session to learn how to apply for a REETAIN Bonus.

Gather the three required documents listed below:

  1. Your DHS Licensing Learning Record from Develop (Please refer to the Eligibility tab for details of the required learning record information).
  1. Proof of income
    • A copy of your current DHS Family Child Care License (only applies to family child care license holder).
    • A copy of your most current pay statement that shows your name and the name and address of your employer (applies to center staff and family child care staff who are not the license holder).
  2. W-9 form
    • Download a W-9 form to your computer or device. Then complete the form with your name, personal address, Social Security number or Employer Identification Number (EIN), signature, and date. Save the form to your computer or device so you can upload it to the application form.

For additional points, family child care applicants may include one document that shows engagement in a professional activity. Examples include a current Parent Aware Rating certificate, a non-expired membership card from a professional organization, or an active Achieve Trainer certificate.

After reading all the application information and gathering your three required documents, apply online during the appropriate application period by selecting the application for your child care program type:

  • The Child Care Center Application is available April through May each year. Technical assistance is available April 1 through May 20.

How often is REETAIN available?

Eligible educators may apply for a REETAIN Bonus each year. Family child care educators can apply during the fall application period (October – November) and center-based providers can apply during the spring application period (April – May).


How is REETAIN funded?

REETAIN is funded by federal and state dollars. These funds come with specific rules about how they are awarded, which have been written into state legislation. These rules are reflected in the application and scoring process through a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Child Care Aware of Minnesota.


How do I submit my REETAIN application?

REETAIN applications must be submitted electronically using the form found under the Application Process tab. Applications that are printed and mailed in will not be accepted. The online application form has a secure upload feature for submitting the required documents with your application.


Do I need to re-apply and re-submit supporting documents even if I have applied for REETAIN in the past?

Yes, you must complete a new application and re-submit all supporting documents. This ensures that all information is up to date.


How much money could I receive?

The bonus amounts are based on your education level. The amounts are:

Career Lattice Step 5 with completed MNCDA or MNITCDA learning community and Step 6 without a CDA $500
Career Lattice Steps 6 (with a CDA), 7, and 8 $1,000
Career Lattice Steps 9 - 10c (associate degree or bachelor’s degree) $2,000
Career Lattice Steps 10d (bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education), 11, and 12 $3,000


Am I eligible to apply if I have not worked in my current position for one year, but was in the same field as my previous job?

No, you must be in your current position for at least one year prior to the first day of the application round to be eligible. For family child care programs, your license must be active for at least one year when the application round opens.


What are my chances of receiving a bonus?

Three primary factors affect your chance of receiving a bonus: The amount of funding available, the total number of applicants, and the score you receive in the review process. The total number of applicants will vary each round. Due to fluctuations in the amount of funding, it is not guaranteed that all eligible applicants will receive a bonus.


How are REETAIN Bonus applications scored?

Each application is reviewed and scored by at least two Child Care Aware of Minnesota staff members. Applications are only scored if all three of the required documents are submitted.

State funding priorities are to support newer educators who are working toward establishing a career in Minnesota’s early childhood education field and increasing their education.

Develop DHS Licensing Learning Record information is used to determine points and the bonus amount related to your Career Lattice Step, which reflects your level of education. More points are awarded for entry level credentials and degrees and a larger bonus amount is given for higher education levels. For financial support to increase your Career Lattice Step, visit our CDA Awards and T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship web pages.

Develop DHS Licensing Learning Record information is also used to determine points for consecutive years of employment in the field working directly with children at least 30 hours per week. Higher points are given for educators in the first 5 years in the field. This is in response to research that indicates that most educators leave the field between their second and fifth year of employment.

Child Care Aware of Minnesota do not have access to applicant’s Develop accounts or Achieve’s database. It is extremely important to update your Develop Membership with accurate and complete education and employment information before applying for a REETAIN Bonus. Ideally before the application timeframe begins.

Center staff receive points for wage level, with more points awarded for lower wages. Family child care educators receive points for training hours above licensing requirements that occurred during the previous calendar year, and for one professional engagement activity.

Educators who increased their Career Lattice Step will receive additional points. Educators who did not receive a REETAIN Bonus during the previous application period will receive additional points.


How can I improve my score?

To ensure that your application receives a fair and accurate score, make sure that your Develop DHS Learning Record information is accurate and up to date.

If you have a Career Lattice Step of 5 or 6 without a Child Development Association credential, seek information and support to obtain your CDA.

Starting in 2022, a step increase on the Career Lattice from the previous year will result in additional points. For financial support to increase your Career Lattice Step, visit the  T.E.A.C.H. Scholarships page.

For family child care, points are given for training hours that are above licensing requirements. Points are calculated according to the total number of verified hours listed on your DHS Licensing Learning Record for the previous calendar year. Points are given according to the following chart:


Family Child Care training hours Points
16-20 hours 2
21-25 hours 4
26 hours or more 6


Family child care educators can also receive points for engagement in one professional activity such as being a member of a professional organization, being an Achieve-approved trainer, or holding a current Parent Aware Rating.


If awarded, when do I get the money?

Award emails are sent by December 20 (family child care) and June 20 (center-based educators). Award emails will include a copy of the participation agreement that was signed as part of your REETAIN Bonus application. The bonus will be dispersed in two equal installments; July 31 (first installment for center-based educators and second installment for family child care) and January 31 (first installment for family child care and second installment for center-based educators).


Are there restrictions on how I spend my bonus? Do I need to report my spending?

The money can be spent on personal or professional costs. There are no requirements for reporting how you used the bonus. However, we will ask you to fill out an anonymous survey about the process, which may include a question on how the REETAIN Bonus helped you financially. This information is used for statistical purposes only.


Why do I have to give you a W-9 form with my Social Security number?

If you are awarded a REETAIN Bonus, we need your Social Security number (family child care) or Employer Identification Number (EIN). This information is submitted on a W-9 form. A link to the W-9 form is found under the Application Process tab and on the application. The application form is secure and provides a safe way to submit your W-9 information.

You will need to report your bonus as income to the IRS. As required by the IRS, we will send you a Form 1099-NEC by January 31 if you received more than $600 in the previous year.


How is my information kept confidential and secure?

Online forms and documents submitted to our Grants department are received and processed only by Child Care Aware of Minnesota staff who need the information to complete their assigned work related to your submission. Documents are electronically filed on a secure server that is owned and maintained by Child Care Aware of Minnesota. Additionally, all staff are required to complete DHS Data Privacy Training annually.


What if I get a bonus, but then quit or lose my job?

Please notify of any employment changes right away. If you leave the field or if you change jobs and are no longer in a classroom role as described under the Eligibility tab and you have already received funding, you will not receive any future payments. Under certain circumstances, you may be asked to return the bonus you’ve recently received.

If you change jobs and maintain eligibility requirements of working directly with children for at least 30 hours in a Minnesota licensed child care program, you will be asked to submit a new copy of your learning record and a pay statement that reflects your new verified employment.


Are directors eligible for REETAIN?

Directors are not usually eligible for REETAIN. However, if a director also works at least 30 hours a week as a classroom Teacher, Assistant Teacher, or Aide, they would be eligible for a REETAIN Bonus. Both position titles of Director and the classroom position title need to be verified on a Develop DHS Learning Record. Each position title needs to include the corresponding age group(s), the number of hours dedicated to each role per week, and the start date. The hours/week for all positions listed should add up to the total hours worked each week.


How will I know if Child Care Aware has received my application and supporting documents?

When your application form is submitted, you will receive an automatic confirmation email to notify you. Individuals who submit an incomplete application will receive an email 10 business days before the application deadline to inform them that their application is incomplete and what is required to complete it. Although we strive to provide technical assistance, we cannot guarantee that we will catch all mistakes. We are unable to provide technical assistance for individuals who submit an incomplete application within 10 days of the end of the round. If you have not received a notification, you can email to inquire about your application.


Who can I contact for answers to questions that are not listed here?

Child Care Aware of Minnesota staff are available to assist you. Email with questions you have about the REETAIN Bonus, the application, or Develop Learning Record requirements.

I would like to thank you for the bonus, I feel honored and proud that I received it. After struggling financially working in the child care field I really felt that someone really cared.


Everyone was so helpful through this process! Thank you for helping support early childhood educators!