Policymakers hope a new tax credit will attract more people to the job and retain those already working with children.
Sarah Ann Kotchian is the vice president of education and early childhood policy for the Holland Children’s Movement in Omaha, which lobbied for the incentive.
She says qualified employees can receive $500 to $1500 through the tax credit based on their level of education or professional development.
“With such low wages, it is and will continue to be difficult, if not impossible, to attract and retain good teachers,” Kotchian tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We see these tax credits benefiting this identified need.”
To receive the tax break, workers must participate in the state’s Step Up to Quality Program.
Childcare centers can receive a tax credit through the program as well, based on the rating they receive from it.
“Step Up to Quality is a quality rating and improvement system for early childhood programs that will inform parents about the quality of early childhood programs in understandable and measurable ways, and also support programs to achieve higher quality,” Kotchian says.
A state analysis estimates the tax credit will cost about $1 million next year and $1.7 million the following year.
“[The tax credits] are based off a model in Louisiana that’s been extremely successful in increasing both the quality of childcare across the State of Louisiana and also the qualifications of their early childhood professional workforce,”Kotchian says.