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Thursday, May 31, 2012 - 11:30am

Preschool Teachers Earning Bonuses

Nearly 1,100 Georgia preschool teachers are getting an extra few hundred dollars this week.

The checks are worth between $250 and $1,250 for early childhood educators who have furthered their education by earning a new certificate or a new degree. The amount depends on the level of education. Many will get a second, matching check in the fall; others received the first installment last fall.

The goal is to keep highly qualified educators in the classroom.

“Continuity of care is very important for children,” said Carol Hartman, assistant commissioner for programs at the state Department of Early Care and Learning. “Children form a bond with their teachers, and when you have high turnover in early care and education settings, it’s not the best for the children.”

Hartman says new rules take effect in December that will require some level of education beyond high school for lead teachers in preschool classrooms.

“For children birth to three, 90 percent of their brain is developed in those first three years,” Hartman said. “So we want children who are in childcare settings to really have the best that they can have.”

Eligible teachers make less than $15 an hour and have been with the same childcare program for the last year. The bonuses are funded with federal grants.