R.E.E.T.A.I.N. Bonuses Are Helping Child Care Professionals Stay in the Field

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Workforce retention is a constant challenge in child care programs. Fortunately, Minnesota has a program to help these programs retain and support staff. The Retaining Early Educators Through Attaining Incentives Now (R.E.E.T.A.I.N.) program provides a competitive bonus system to incentivize well-trained child care professionals to stay in the workforce, creating more consistent care for children over time. Recipients of R.E.E.T.A.I.N. bonuses make a commitment to remain in their position or business for at least one year after the grant is awarded.

Since 2003, R.E.E.T.A.I.N. has awarded bonuses to over 2,000 degreed or credentialed early childhood and school-age care professionals, keeping them in the field teaching our youngest Minnesotans. R.E.E.T.A.I.N. is currently funded with federal Child Care Development Block Grant dollars. This spring, the Minnesota Legislature is considering legislation that would add additional funding to the program. Currently, over half of qualified family child care providers who apply for R.E.E.T.A.I.N. are turned down due to lack of funding.

In the most recent survey of R.E.E.T.A.I.N. recipients, over half felt that the grant strongly or very strongly influenced their decision to remain in the field. Interview respondents also indicated that funds from the R.E.E.T.A.I.N. program relieved considerable stress for providers by helping them pay bills and other expenses and allowing them to focus more easily on their work. As one recipient noted in the survey, “I am happy and thankful to get the grant. Makes me feel appreciated and important – I live paycheck to paycheck. I believe I make a difference – nice to know that someone else believes that too.”

R.E.E.T.A.I.N. Bonus applications open April 1 for child care center providers and October 1 for family child care providers.