Hamilton County Board of Education raises pay for school age child care workers

·2 min read

Jan. 22—The Hamilton County Board of Education has voted to increase pay for school age child care program employees — which have become increasingly difficult to find — and increase rates for program participants to pay for the pay increases.

Hourly pay rates will go from $10.75 to $13 for child care assistants, from $13.39 to $15 for senior child care assistants without degrees, from $14.49 to $16 for senior child care assistants with degrees and from $17.77 to $20 for site directors.

As of Dec. 27, the average hourly wage range for child care workers in the U.S. is $15-$19 and varies based on factors such as education and certification, according to Salary.com.

The vote on the pay and rate increases was Thursday.

Program administrators aside from the program manager will get a 10% raise. Board member Rhonda Thurman of Hixson asked that the board consider not giving administrators a raise and using that money to further increase the pay of the hourly workers in the positions that are difficult to fill.

"I think that the people in the office there are very well compensated for what they do," Thurman said at the board's Tuesday work session. "I don't see that we're out beating the bushes looking for administrators."

Board member Tiffanie Robinson of Chattanooga said she saw Thurman's point but felt the board also needed to consider the only raise the program administrators have received in her five years on the panel was the 1% raise they received in the last 18 months.

None of the other board members commented.

Rates for program participants will go from $5 to $6 for morning child care, from $7 to $9 for after-school child care and from $17 to $20 for full-day child care. Registration fees will increase from $10 to $20.

In comparison, full-day school aged child care is $35 in Williamson County Schools, $23.20 in Knox County Schools, $22.50 in Putnam County Schools and $28.50 at local, privately run Camp Big Fish.

Child care vouchers are available to subsidize rates for families in need, Superintendent Justin Robertson said at the work session.

"Even with the rate increase, we're still significantly lower than what traditional rates would be," Robertson said. "We're only going up $3 for morning care from what we were charging in 1988. We're not trying to make money here. We're trying to make sure we can pay our employees."

State law requires the program to be self-funded, board attorney Scott Bennett said.

Robertson said excess revenue beyond what is required to run the program goes into the district's "rainy day" fund.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.