Key Links
Annual Summary Reports
Data Reports

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Wisconsin
Scholarship and Bonus Program

The Problem

The single most important determinant of child care quality is the presence of consistent, sensitive, well-trained and well compensated caregivers. Currently, low compensation, poor benefits and high turnover have led to a nationwide child care staffing crisis. Lack of resources and the desire to maintain affordability for parents make it difficult for individual child care programs to reward or encourage teacher education and pay more competitive salaries.

A national initiative, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®, was developed to address this problem. Wisconsin is currently one of 22 states in the nation to support a T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program, and has been awarding scholarships since 1999. T.E.A.C.H. stands for “Teacher Education and Compensation Helps”.

The Purpose

  • To provide financial support to those currently working in the field of early education to enhance their educational qualifications, increase their compensation, and promote commitment to their work.
  • To help early education programs retain staff who are knowledgeable about how children grow and learn, and more skilled in putting knowledge into practice.
  • To provide Wisconsin’s young children early learning experiences with teachers and providers who are more likely to be sensitive and responsive to their needs and more supportive of their families.

The Program


  • A T.E.A.C.H. scholarship provides a major share of tuition, book expenses, and credential fees (if applicable). Also included is a travel stipend and support of some release time for the scholarship recipient as specified in most contracts.
  • Scholarships are based on the principle of partnership between the participant, the sponsoring child care program and the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Wisconsin Scholarship Program, all sharing in the cost.
  • Counseling and administrative support for both the scholarship recipient and sponsoring program is provided to help identify an appropriate educational path and scholarship model.


  • Recipients complete anywhere from 3 to 18 credits, depending on the scholarship model and time period specified in a contract (typically one or two years).
  •  T.E.A.C.H. scholars must take credit-based coursework within the Wisconsin Technical College System and/or in Wisconsin public and private colleges and universities.


  • All scholarship recipients receive enhanced compensation at the completion of each contract through a bonus from T.E.A.C.H. and in most cases either a raise or bonus from their sponsoring program.


  • Recipients make a commitment to remain in the sponsoring child care program or the field of early education for 6 months to one year beyond the contract period, depending on the scholarship model.

Programs Affiliated with a Public School

Programs that have a contract with a public school board but are not licensed or certified by the Department of Children and Families may be eligible for T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Wisconsin scholarships. Please contact if your program falls under this category and you would like to explore this option.

The Results

Increased Education

From August 1999 through September 2011, over 5,110 teachers, directors and family child care providers have made the commitment to further their education with a T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Wisconsin Scholarship. The estimated number of children served in programs that have sponsored recipients to increase their educational level and thus, provide better care, is over 90,000.  Nearly 2,000 child care programs have sponsored T.E.A.C.H. recipients.

Increased Compensation

Modest compensation increases occur in the form of bonuses provided by T.E.A.C.H. and sponsoring programs upon completion of a scholarship contract. Some programs choose the raise option (1.5 – 2% raise) instead of a bonus, but these programs are in a distinct minority. As recipients attain higher educational levels, however, more are eligible for REWARD stipends to supplement their wages as well.

In 2011 the average starting wage of a T.E.A.C.H. scholar was $11.79 per hour, compared to the average wage of a group child care employee as reported in the 2010 Wisconsin child care workforce study of $11.35.

Reduced Turnover

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Wisconsin has been in place in Wisconsin since 1999. The overall turnover rate reported in the most recent Wisconsin child care workforce study (2010) is 21%.. Turnover rate of T.E.A.C.H Scholarship recipients is 11% over the entire time period and less than 7% in 2011. Turnover rate of T.E.A.C.H scholarship recipients during their commitment period is less than 2%.

Contact T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® WISCONSIN for more information

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® Wisconsin
744 Williamson St. Suite 200
Madison, WI 53703

Local Phone: 608-240-9880, Choose Option 3
Toll-free Phone: 800-783-9322, Choose Option 3

Updated November 12, 2014

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.